December 02, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

The Conway Twitty Collection

Current Status
In Season
Conway Twitty
We gave it a B

The son of a Mississippi riverboat pilot, Harold Jenkins grew up to synthesize rural blues, country, and rock & roll into a persona named Conway Twitty. His great strengths were a growly baritone and an understanding of women’s romantic fantasies, a combination that made him country’s biggest hit-maker until his death in 1993 at the age of 59. The four-disc The Conway Twitty Collection traces the late singer in search of a style — starting in country in the ’40s, moving to imitation-Elvis in the ’50s, breaking through with ”It’s Only Make Believe” in 1958, and eventually evolving his own country-blues sound. For all his solo popularity, Twitty was most charismatic duetting with Loretta Lynn and Sam Moore, with whom Twitty cut his last record (”Rainy Night in Georgia,” from the Rhythm, Country and Blues collection). He was also the one old-school singer who consistently competed with younger acts on the charts. Twitty always said it was the song, not the singer. In his case, and as this set shows, it was both. B

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