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Country’s Greatest Stars Live: Vol. 1 and 2 (DVD Review)

25 Jan, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Street 1/26/10
Shout! Factory
$26.99 each DVD
Not rated.

When Roy Acuff (seen here at age 75) kicks it off, you know we’re in for a real deal.

Showcased are more than 60 performing artists, to say nothing of (co-host) Glen Campbell lapels on which Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger could probably land a jet.

Telecast over a five-month period during the Jimmy Carter years, this seven-hour tribute to 50 years of a bedrock music form has most of its guests performing the expected evergreens (or in some cases – e.g. Asleep at the Wheel — cacti). But this is what you want in a comprehensive overview, which is far more often moving than not despite an overabundance of saccharine strings. (Suddenly, you know what Waylon and Willie — neither seen here, interestingly — were “outlawing” against.)

Taped in Nashville, this bounty of memories fills a total of four discs: Loretta Lynn doing a Patsy Cline medley; Conway Twitty flashing that that Elvis swagger dating back to his pre-Country pop days; Campbell and Ray Charles in duet; Patti Page reviving The Tennessee Waltz; Bill Monroe “pickin’”; the timeless cool of Merle Haggard fronting Bob Wills veterans (for me, the set’s high point plus great hat, Merle); and all those healthy fantasies about how much fun it would be to have your cheek tickled by Crystal Gayle’s hair.

There aren’t any extras, but hey, you’re getting a lot. Still missing in DVD action is Paramount’s 1958 movie Country Music Holiday — terrible, but I want to own it because it’s the only movie to co-star Ferlin Husky and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

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