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Patsy Cline Collection

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The Country Music Foundation offers 104 songs–more than four hours of music–even though Patsy Cline died at 30 after less than a decade of recording. Given the wavering quality of her later string-laden work, four CDs might be excessive, but this set comprehensively follows Cline from upstart country boomer to pop diva. She could take charge of a song from day one, as the two 1954 radio transcriptions prove. On her vibrant late-1950s work, she moves from honky-tonk and rockabilly to soft ballads in commanding fashion. “Walkin After Midnight,” her first hit, features Don Helms’s gentle steel guitar while her vocals blend raw power with emotional vulnerability. By 1957, vocal groups had entered into the mix, and in 1961, hits such as “I Fall to Pieces,” “She’s Got You,” and Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” brought her pop stardom. –Marc Greilsamer