The Essential Dolly Parton, Vol. 1: I Will Always Love You

by: Dolly Parton

This set kicked off RCA's long-overdue "essential" reissue series with a package by country's best-known ambassador, Dolly Parton. The volume one imprint on the album implies that there will be another Parton set, which is good news, considering that this set is geared toward her late-'70s and thereafter pop recordings. Parton fans must demand a respectful set featuring Parton's very early hits, when she was hungry to establish herself -- songs like "Mule Skinner Blues," "Try Being Lonely," "Joshua," "She Never Met A Man (She Didn't Like)," "Coat of Many Colors," "Touch Your Woman," "Dumb Blonde," "The Bargin Store," or "Just Because I'm a Woman." And how about throwing in a couple of Porter Wagoner duets like "If Teardrops Were Pennies" or "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" for good measure? That those tracks aren't included here shouldn't inhibit anyone from picking this set up. There's not a rotten apple in this bunch. There's the 1982 version of her 1974 country smash "I Will Always Love You," which was used in the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; the equally familiar "Islands in the Stream" duet with Kenny Rogers; and the title song from the 1980 film 9 to 5. The rest of the material is divided between what RCA hoped to cross over to the pop charts and what they planned to program to Parton's base country audience. Of the former there is the spirited "Think About Love" and the all-out MOR ballads "Starting Over Again" and "You're the Only One." As for the latter, there are the fun, snappy "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," "Sweet Summer Lovin'," and "Heartbreak Express," among others. ~ Bil Carpenter

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