2014 has been the year of Dolly Parton. The 68-year-old released her 42nd studio album Blue Smoke earlier this year and achieved her highest charting album in the UK and in the US. Coinciding with the huge success of the record Dolly embarked on her Blue Smoke World Tour and played a headline set at Glastonbury where she drew the biggest crowd of the weekend. We’d consider that pretty impressive for the country legend. Now Sony have released a special ‘bookset’ called Dolly celebrating her lengthy and successful career.
Dolly features 99 tracks over 4 discs and is packaged in a beautiful hardback book. Inside is a collection of photos of Dolly over the years along with a lengthy biography covering her hugely successful career. The music featured in this release dates from 1959 through to 1992 and covers an impressive amount of ground. The hardcore Dolly fan will likely have most of the songs on this collection but those fans who are just discovering her in the past few years will find plenty to enjoy.
Included on the collection are 11 tracks with Dolly’s frequent collaborator Porter Wagoner. Dolly appeared on The Porter Wagoner Show from 1966 to 1974 and made many recordings with Wagoner over the years. There are many memorable recordings with the two but on this boxset the best ones are The Last Thing On My Mind and the heartbreaking Just Someone I Used To Know.
One of the great things about this release is the rich variety of music and styles Dolly has sung over the years. From the more soulful It’s Sure Gonna Hurt through to the poppier Think About Love, Dolly is a very versatile vocalist. There’s no doubt that country is where she belongs and nothing beats the more familiar tracks such as 9 to 5, Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers, Jolene and her signature song I Will Always Love You.
Of the lesser-known tracks (well they were lesser known to us!) we really loved the ballad Everything Is Beautiful (In Its Own Way), the feisty Traveling Man and the plucky Kentucky Gambler.
Our favourite tracks on the release are the autobiographical tales Coat of Many Colors and The Bargain Store. Dolly has always been upfront about her upbringing and she’s always used her life as the source material for her songs. These are two of the rawest songs from her career and they are timeless classics.
Dolly is a wonderful release that gives a really fantastic insight into Dolly Parton’s long and successful career. Even at 68 she’s showing no signs of slowing down and Blue Smoke is one of her best albums to date. For those who don’t know much outside of her biggest hits, we recommend getting yourself a copy of this release and familiarising yourself with her back catalogue. We promise you that you won’t regret it.