"Cute 'N' Country" was what they called Connie Smith, and the description certainly fit. Her super-stardom in the 1960s was a storybook tale: a housewife from Ohio, she performed only as an amateur until she was discovered by Nashville songwriter Bill Anderson, and was quickly signed to RCA in 1964. From then on, her life was a string of #1 hit records, until she gradually dropped out of the Music City limelight, choosing to concentrate on her family and her religion. This is the second page of Slipcue's Connie Smith profile, looking at her various "best-of" collections... For the first page, which reviews all her original albums, click here.
Connie Smith "Born To Sing" (Bear Family, 2001)
WOW. A yummy, 4-CD box set of her early work on RCA, with a generously informative booklet to boot... if you want to get all of Smith's early material in one nice, shiny new package, then this might be just the thing for you. It's jaw-droppingly great, though like many Bear Family boxes, also a bit overwhelming. I would call this the ultimate Connie Smith box set, except now that Sony and BMG have merged, they can actually combine all the material from her RCA, Columbia and Monument releases... (Gee, just imagine!) Well, anyway, her work on RCA is her best, so this collection should just about cover it... and then some!
Connie Smith "Just For What I Am" (Box Set) (Bear Family, 2012)
Pure heaven. This 5-CD box set picks up where the Born To Sing box left off, gathering all of Smith's work for the RCA label from 1968-72, a trove of some of the best countrypolitan music ever recorded. I'm a big fan of Smith's work, and the prospect of hearing it (finally!) on CD, along with a dozen previously unreleased tracks as well as Bear Family's trademark fine sound quality and a bunch of archival photos and whatnot... Well, I'm psyched. Of course, first I have to win the lottery, so I can afford it, but it's going to sound pretty sweet when I do. Highly, highly recommended.
Connie Smith "The Essential Connie Smith" (RCA-Nashville, 1996)
I was (and am) thrilled that RCA put this out as part of their Essentials series... But even as I was queueing up the Connie Smith reissues cheeringleading squad, I had to shake my head in disbelief that they put out such a tepid retrospective. Yeah, it's got a few of the good ones on it, but not enough. If you've never heard Connie Smith before, and you're curious -- yes, this is pretty much the place to start. If it'd been up to me, though, this disc would not be so lopsided towards the goopy Nashville Sound songs, and would have included way more of the fun, upbeat material which made her so unique, way back when.
Connie Smith & Nat Stuckey "God Will" (Music Row Talent, 2001)
A highly welcome CD reissue of her classic gospel duets recorded with Nat Stuckey in the late 1960s. This disc combines all the material from the much sought-after Sunday Morning album, and some tracks off of the earlier Young Love LP. Country gospel fans in particular will be ecstatic that Stuckey's family was able to convince RCA to let them reissue this album, so that fans no longer have to contend with extravagant collector prices to hear this fine Nashville-politan gospel material! (Also see my Country Gospel section.)
Connie Smith "Greatest Hits On Monument" (Sony, 1993)
Yeesh. There was certainly better material buried on her various late-'70s Monument LPs (particularly on the Pure LP...) However, this disco-tinged best-of was enough to scare me off for a while. Definitely not her best material, and also not well-chosen from this particular era... You're much better off searching out the old, original albums.
Connie Smith "Super Hits" (BMG, 1997)
A ten-song budget line best-of with some of her best early stuff on RCA.
Connie Smith "The Best Of Connie Smith" (RCA, 1967) (LPM-3848)
God, this is so good!!! Features a slew of her earliest, greatest hits, with perky, girl-groupy numbers like "Once A Day" "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio", "Then And Only Then," and a throaty, bluesy version of "Ain't Had No Lovin'"... RCA would do well to just reissue this album outright, if they can't find the time to put together a proper retrospective. Still fairly easy to find, and highly, highly recommended.
Connie Smith "The Best Of Connie Smith, Vol. 2" (RCA, 1970) (LSP-4324)
More of the same...and who can complain?
Connie Smith "Greatest Hits. Vol. 1" (RCA) (0275)
Connie Smith "I Overlooked An Orchid" (Pickwick/Camden ACL 7026)
Connie Smith "My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own" (RCA/Camden) (CAS-2495)
Connie Smith "City Lights - Country Favorites" (RCA-Camden, 1972) (CAS-2550)
Connie Smith "The Best Of Connie Smith" (Columbia, 1977) (C-34877)
A strong collection, drawn from her mid-'70s material on Columbia. Although there was plenty of drek they could have chosen, this is actually a pretty vigorous set, and an interesting snapshot of late-period countrypolitan. I'm told that one track, "I'm In the Middle of a Losing Streak", was not released elsewhere, and it certainly has some of the most amusing production... a dash of Happy Days style '50s rocknroll injected into the Nashville sound system. Also includes a couple of Everly Brothers tunes, such as her version of "So Sad", a song she later did as a duet with John Prine on his excellent 1999 album, In Spite Of Ourselves. (See above.) Sony could do a lot worse than to reissue this record, with maybe a few extra tracks. Hint, hint.
Connie Smith "Famous Country Music Makers" (RCA, 1977) (PL-42000 )
Connie Smith "Twenty Of The Best" (RCA, 1985) (NL-89523)
Hick Music Index