For reasons of cluelessness, that I have long since quit trying to figure out, RCA and BMG have spend the past 15 years or so constantly taking the same handful of Dolly Parton songs and put them on compilation after compilation while they continue to allow many, many of her songs and albums, particularly those from her pre-pop country phase (from circa 1977 back) languish in their vaults gathering dust and never ever even issued once on CD. Do a song search on Amazon for "Here You Come Again," "9 to 5," "Two Doors Down," "I Will Always Love You," "Old Flames," and "Islands in the Stream" and you'll find that there are already dozens of CD compilations that have these songs. Then do a search for "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy," "Just Because I'm a Woman," or "Down From Dover" and you'll find far, far fewer and for that later song you will find that only a new version, which she recorded for her "Little Sparrow" album remains in print.
OK. So this 2- disc compilation goes a little ways to correct some of that. Unlike most other compilations it does acknowledge that there was more to Dolly Parton before her mid to late 70's pop sellout than "Coat of Many Colors" and "Jolene" both marvelous songs (and in the case of CoMC magnificent) which are usually to two songs tossed on all the pop compilations that are supposed to make up for the absence of any comprehensive collection of Parton's most artistically compelling period, this one gives a decent, if far from complete, overview of it. Nevertheless, this compilation remains problematic.
For starters, rather than giving us a two disc set of songs that have generally been ignored in the CD era, it uses the second disc to, once again give us songs that have been released over and over and over again. Face it. Does anyone who really wants to have "Here You Come Again," "I Will Always Love You," or "9 to 5" on CD STILL not have it? And since a large number of people who have an interest in Parton's more traditional country period have little to no interest in her pop sellout phase why bundle these discs together and slap a twenty dollar plus list price on it meaning that we have to choose either between paying a premium cost for a single disc (since disc two will go unplayed) or (the more likely option) forgoing buying this altogether? And all of this doesn't get into the fact that the less satisfying pop stuff begins to creep in on disc one.
BMG & RCA: WAKE UP!!!! You have a treasure trove of material by this woman collecting dust in your vaults. Can't SOMEBODY give the American market a first rate collection of Dolly Parton's pre pop career? An Australian label released one a few years ago called "Mission Chapel Memories." What do they Aussies know that you all don't?
Given nothing but the song selection here, this compilation would warrant three to maybe three and a half stars (the second disc dragging down the overall rating) but given the overall problems I have to drag it down to two which alone resists strong temptation to vent my frustrations at BMG & RCA with a one star rating.