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Dolly (Box Set)

1 rating: 5.0
Country album by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton Has Few Peers, And No One In Music Will Deny Her Powers As A Singer, A Storyteller And A Pop Star. From Her First National Hit In 1967, The Ironically Titled 'Dumb Blonde' (Nobody With A Lick Of Sense Ever Accused Dolly Of That!) And The … see full wiki

1 review about Dolly (Box Set)

'Dolly' Box Set: A Musical Autobiography

  • Nov 9, 2009
This season always features a crop of greatest hits, ultimate hits, box sets and special collections released by record companies in an attempt to bring in more cash during the holiday season. This set, simply titled 'Dolly' has been released without much fanfare or promotion which is really a shame because this is probably one of the best compilation and special career-spanning box collections released in a long while for a big artist like Dolly Parton. Let's get one thing straight; this is not a 'greatest hits' collection. Neither is it a 'definitive' collection. Yes, there are noticeably some big hits missing and the collection of songs ends with the early 1990s. Still, why is it worth buying? Well, first, it's reasonably priced and affordable. Through Amazon, for just a bit over $35.00 you are able to purchase 99 songs from Dolly Parton's career. Many of these tracks are from CDs that are either hard to find or out of print. This collection's songs are polished and sound better than ever, unlike most compilation sets that are lazily pieced together without a lot of thought or attention to the tracks. Not so with 'Dolly'. This is in many ways career-spanning in that it features tracks from many periods of Dolly Parton's life and career; from her first track "Puppy Love" through the Porter Wagner years; from her first solo efforts through her pop and disco years. Even though the box set neglects modern Parton whose done everything from bluegrass, cover songs of political songs to (most recently) classic country, this set doesn't at all feel unfinished or lacking. It packs a punch with over four and a half hours worth of Dolly Parton music. Yes, it includes some of her big hits like "I Will Always Love You", "Two Doors Down" and "9 to 5", but it also exposes the listener to a host of Dolly that gives you a complete sense of who she is as an artist and what makes her, as the sticker on the box boasts, a legend.

The Good: Again, the best part of this set is that it's reasonably price. The retail price is in the upper $40 range; still, you are getting 99 songs, a slim box that encases the discs and a well-produced 60+ page book that contains a short biography of Parton, covering her life and music. I felt the strength of this set was that it did not rely solely on her 'greatest hits' that have been released ten fold on previous releases. Instead, it gives the Dolly fan and basic music consumer access to music that is hard to find and even goes so far to make each track sound better than ever. 'Dolly' is more of a musical autobiography than it is a collection of hits; there's a chronological order to the music so you're taken from her almost unrecognizable child-like voice on "Puppy Love" through dozens of songs that showcase her strength and versatility as a music artist. This set also celebrates her career rather than focusing on one aspect or period; the music she did with Porter Wagner and early on in her career of course may not be as well-known by a younger audience as her hits "9 to 5" or "Islands in the Stream" duet with Kenny Rogers, but the older and lesser known tracks are featured alongside the popular tracks just the same. It's an enjoyable listening experience listening to Parton go from classic country to dabbling in pop/disco on tracks like "Baby I'm Burning". In all, the quality of this set really took me by surprise and it's a shame it's not being promoted more because if you're a Dolly Parton fan, or even a casual fan of hers, perhaps even just curious of her, this set was made and compiled with you in mind. It's got something for everyone and does not let you down.

The Bad: After reading the 60+ page booklet that comes with the set, it was clear to me that this was not meant to be a greatest hits album. It's something of an autobiography or storyteller's edition. If you read the book and get the inside scoop on some of the tracks, you'll see the purpose of the 4 CD set is to reveal and follow Dolly Parton's rise to fame and popularity. That being said, if there was a flaw in the set it's that it comes a bit short of being a true career-spanning collection. It would have been made even better if it included tracks from the mid 1990s to today. Not including Parton's bluegrass era, or even her work on releases like 'Hungry Again', 'Those Were Days' or 'Backwoods Barbie' leaves something of an unfinished picture of the artist. It gives the impression to the unknowing listener or Dolly fan that after 1990, she hasn't done much worth acknowledging or celebrating. The entire vibe of 'Dolly' feels as if it's celebrating Dolly Parton and her great accomplishments and versatility as an artist. In a way, I wish there had been a subtitle acknowledging that this was not covering her entire career. Also, it would have been nice if there was some sort of video component included with this set. A DVD with her A&E biography would have been fitting; interviews or clips from other artists and professionals speaking of Parton, even music videos or clips of live performances (especially of her years with Porter Wagner) would have made this a truly well-rounded release. Still, it's a minor complaint and doesn't detract from the great quality of work put into the final product.

In all, this is a must buy. With the collection of songs, including un-released tracks, 'Dolly' is a must-have and worth every penny. While it is not entirely career-spanning, the 99 tracks and accompanying mini-booklet definitely covers the early years through the early 90s of Parton's life and career and makes a great case for why she's a legend. Definitely worth buying.

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Dolly (Box Set)
Label: Sony Legacy
Artist: Dolly Parton
Release Date: October 26, 2009

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