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Carlene Carter

Hindsight 20/20 – 1996 (Giant)

Reviewed by Roy Kasten

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CDs by Carlene Carter

"...The whole purpose and point of striving to create music," Carlene Carter says in the liner notes to this compilation, "is to remind us all we're alive." Being alive for Carter means rock 'n roll thrill and country candor.

In the'80's, traditionalists like Dolly Parton crossed over into rock and landed in disaster, but Carter mixed genres artfully. Her roots are as much in Sun Studios as in Clinch Mountain. She plays with sharp, spunky musicians, and often matches her easy going twang with the pup rock of producers like Nick Lowe. Others like Howie Epstein showed questionable taste, drenching drums and vocals in high tech echo. Still Epstein brings squeeze box and fiddle to"Me and the Wildwood Rose," and it swings, band of angels tight. This CD's ordering isn't chronological, starting with the rabidly catchy "Sweet Meant toBe" (1993) and ending with "Easy From Now On" (1976).

The early years are slighted -12 of the 20 tunes come from the '90's - and that's disappointing. But Carter swims in mainstreams and insurgent country currents; fans of both will enjoy her bopping, charming, and happily un-line-danceable panache.