My Kind of Country

My Kind of Country

Many of my 8-tracks are like this one: collections of country music. I cannot blame whoever assembled this collection for that, I love collections and compilations, its like someone made a playlist for you 45 years ago. If I am buying single cassettes or records, I usually lean towards compilations. This 8-track also has another trait I look for: CanCon. Stuff made for the Canadian market is often weirder, having the same run time to fill with a much narrower selection of artists. Plus, I grew up listening to CBC radio, so if I am going to recognize something from before I was born, its probably going to be Canadian.

This particular release features Canadian artists preforming their popular songs. And they surly have some degree of note, I know many of these songs. I know the names of Wilf Carter, Anne Murry, Hank Snow and Lorne Green. I know the songs of Stompin’ Tom and Ian Tyson well, the former having written The Hockey Song in addition to songs featuring just about every small town around where I grew up, and the later wrote Four Strong Wings, one of the most beautiful songs I know. Beyond all that, I know the songs City of New Orleans, Canadian Pacific, Travellin’ Man, and Ringo from the CBC growing up even though I never knew who preformed them.

This particular 8-track was released by K-Tel, the company that largely invented the compilation album. It has a catelogue number of WC-313. From my research, the WC designation was used for country releases, and this one in particular was likely released in 1974 or 1975.

Front cover of K-Tel's My Kind of Country eight track cartridge
My Kind of Country
Program 1
George Hamilton IV – Canadian Pacific
Wilf Carter – Blue Canadian Rockies
Tommy Hunter – Travellin’ Man
Stompin’ Tom Connors – Stompin’ Grounds
Anne Murray – What About Me
Program 3
Mercey Brothers – City of New Orleans
Ian Tyson – Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone
Wilf Carter – Bluebird On My Windowsill
Dick Damron – Countrified
Carlton Showband – Any Dream Will Do
Program 2
Hank Snow – I Don’t Hurt Anymore
Ronnie Prophet – I Won’t Mention It Again
Murray McLauchlan – Farmer’s Song
Roy Payne – That’s Why I’m in Love With Life
Al Cherny – Back 40 Rip Off
Program 4
Lorne Greene – Ringo
Harlan Smith – Ding-A-Ling Debbie
Hank Snow – I’m Moving On
Jim and Don Haggart – Follow Your Heart
Myrna Lorrie & Buddy DeVal – Are You Mine

It is going to be a lot faster to list the songs I do not love from this album. Stompin’ Grounds may have been famous, but it is not my favourite Stompin’ Tom song. I would guess that it got picked because it feels so patriotic, but something like Sudbury Saturday Night is, to me, a much better song. I also do not love Are You Mine, mainly because it promised a male-female duet and delivered weakly. Finally, Countrified, which somehow seems too modern to be here and is far too modern sounding, lyrically, for my tastes.

There are dozens of Anne Murray cassettes at every thrift store I regularly visit. I will be picking some of them up now, What About Me is a surprise standout song for me. Her Christmas special must have played seasonally, because that is the only memory I have of her, and it is intense.

Ringo is as fun as I remembered it being, country being uniquely suited to tell a story in the space of a song, especially western style songs. If you haven’t heard City of New Orleans or Love Can Bless the Soul of Anyone you should do yourself the favour.

An artist releasing an album of new material can get away with a few filler songs and still have a great album, but a compilation needs a high signal-to-noise ratio to be successful. I would call KTel’s My Kind of Country a success. It reunited me with some beloved songs from my childhood, introduced me to new artists to explore, and never really dragged too much. The song order on the LP is slightly better, breaking up the three patriotic/region name dropping songs, but that is a limitation of the format. I am exceedingly happy to have this in my collection, it is the sort of thing I hope I come across often.

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