Folks nowadays barely remember when Dottie West (1932-1991) was considered a "girl" singer, back in the early 1960s, but for a while there, she was a real groundbreaker. Her material was seldom as swinging or lively as RCA labelmates Skeeter Davis and Connie Smith, but West certainly held her own as far as chart action went. She first broke through as a songwriter, and then as a singer. The successes of her late '60s/early '70s hits were eclipsed by a second act as a country-pop crossover star, and as the duet partner who helped bring Kenny Rogers into the country mainstream. Her daughter, Shelly West, was also riding high in the early '80s, as the duet partner of David Frizzell, although both Wests slipped off the charts by decade's end. Dottie West died of medical complications following an auto accident... Here's a quick look at her work.
Dottie West "The Essential Dottie West" (RCA-Nashville, 1996)
An excellent, standard-issue best-of set, with a slew of early hits, and a fine introduction to her career. Sappy early countrypolitan, but still worth checking out.
Dottie West "RCA Country Legends" (Buddah, 2001)
A slightly different collection, with a good helping of hits and some overlap from the Essential album listed above... I like this particular series, which often includes album tracks and singles that don't appear on more tightly focussed best-of sets. In digging past the big hits, they find some interesting, off-the-radar gems.
Dottie West "Are You Happy Baby? The Dottie West Collection: 1976-84" (Razor & Tie, 1997)
This set focusses on her later crossover career, which has its plusses and minuses... The lyrics may have been pretty racy and sexually frank, but the music was really bad. Plus, Dottie helped Kenny Rogers cross over into the country mainstream... Not only is that a heavy burden of shame to bear, but you also have to suffer through a bunch of his vocals on their duet numbers (easily half the songs on this album). If you were a fan back when these songs first came out, this collection is a godsend; if you're just someone who likes real-deal, twangy old country music, you can probably skip this set.
Dottie West "Greatest Hits" (Curb, 1992)
A 12-song sampling of her later work on United Artists, including several duets with (ugh...) Kenny Rogers...
Dottie West & Kenny Rogers "Every Time Two Fools Collide: The Best Of Kenny Rogers And Dottie West" (EMI Special Products, 1993)
A budget-line best-of that offers ten of their "best" duets...
Dottie West "A Legend in My Time/The Sound Of Country Music" (Collectables, 2004)
A curious twofer release that gathers not two of her original albums, but rather two of the old LPs in RCA's cheapo Camden series. The funny thing about the Camden albums, though, is even though they were a little off-brand (or possibly because of it...) they often included little gems that didn't make it onto standard-issue best-of sets -- odd album tracks, singles and stuff like that. So if you'd like a slightly alternative reading of West's early work, this disc is definitely worth tracking down.
Dottie West "Just Dottie Again" (First Generation, 1984/2000)
A CD reissue of West's final album, the 1984 indie release, Just Dottie. Amazingly, this was pretty much the first straight digital reissue of any of her albums...
Dottie West "Country Girl Singing Sensation" (Starday, 1964) (LP)
These early singles -- cut for the Starday label in the early '60s -- include a lot of cover tunes, particularly of old Patsy Cline hits such as "Crazy" and "I Fall To Pieces." None of it made much of an impression, but fans might still want to track this down to hear what she sounded like before she hooked up with Chet Atkins at RCA, and also to hear a slightly rougher country twang in her work.
Dottie West "Here Comes My Baby" (RCA, 1965) (LP)
Dottie West "Dottie West Sings" (RCA, 1965) (LP)
Dottie West "Suffer Time" (RCA, 1966) (LP)
Dottie West "With All My Heart And Soul" (RCA, 1967) (LP)
Dottie West "I'll Help You Forget Her" (RCA, 1967) (LP)
Dottie West "What I'm Cut Out To Be" (RCA, 1968) (LP)
Dottie West "Country Girl" (RCA, 1968) (LP)
Dottie West "Feminine Fancy" (RCA, 1968) (LP)
Dottie West "Dottie Sings Eddy" (RCA, 1969) (LP)
Dottie West & Don Gibson "Dottie And Don" (RCA, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Chet Atkins & Danny Davis)
A somewhat sleepy, sterile-sounding set of slow, soft countrypolitan duets. When they actually sing together, they harmonize beautifully. But mostly they just trade lines and come in on cue in the middle of the oh-so-safe, oh-so-unexciting studio arrangements. This is pretty much the epitome of Nashville's most boring work of the era, with everyone concerned sleepwalking themselves through the disc. I mean, their vocals are okay, but the music is a snooze.
Dottie West "Makin' Memories" (RCA, 1969) (LP)
Dottie West "Country And West" (RCA, 1970) (LP)
Dottie West "Forever Yours" (RCA, 1970) (LP)
Dottie West & Jimmy Dean "Country Boy And Country Girl" (RCA, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Bradley)
Although sausage king Jimmy Dean is rightfully thought of as the kiss of death on many of his watered-down releases, this collaboration with the up-and-coming Ms. West is actually a pretty fun, vigorous album. Contemporary "sunshine country" production adds a little bounce and electricity, particularly on their souped-up cover of "Jackson." Sure, maybe we don't really need their versions of old hits such as "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" and "Just Someone I Used To Know," but this is soooooo much better than most of Dean's own work that it's worth checking out, just to hear him get a creative shot in the arm. An okay album from a wimpy era. (PS -- I love the album's awkward sub-head: "...Singing Very Well And Having A Great Time Working Together." Talk about your great marketing slogans!)
Dottie West "Careless Hands" (RCA, 1971) (LP)
Dottie West "Have You Heard... Dottie West?" (RCA, 1971) (LP)
Dottie West "I'm Only A Woman" (RCA, 1972) (LP)
Dottie West "If It's All Right With You/Just What I've Been Looking For" (RCA, 1973) (LP)
Dottie West "Country Sunshine" (RCA, 1973) (LP)
Dottie West "House Of Love" (RCA, 1974) (LP)
Dottie West "Carolina Cousins" (RCA, 1975) (LP)
Dottie West "When It's Just You And Me" (United Artists, 1977) (LP)
Dottie West "Dottie" (United Artists, 1978) (LP)
Dottie West & Kenny Rogers "Every Time Two Fools Collide" (United Artists, 1978) (LP)
Dottie West & Kenny Rogers "Classics" (Liberty, 1979)
Dottie West "Special Delivery" (Liberty, 1979) (LP)
Dottie West "Wild West" (Liberty, 1981) (LP)
Dottie West "High Time" (Liberty, 1981) (LP)
Dottie West "Full Circle" (Liberty, 1982) (LP)
Dottie West "New Horizons" (Liberty, 1983) (LP)
Dottie West "Just Dottie" (Permian, 1984) (LP)
Hick Music Index