We review three volumes of the successful country music series

By Tony Scherman
Updated May 28, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

A short review can only touch on the riches of this collection, a survey of country music’s West Coast branch in its great years: the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Vol. 1 explores the hard-bitten Bakersfield sound, the antidote to Nashville’s growing saccharinity; Vol. 2 (the real gem) celebrates the virtuosity of country pickers, from Merle Travis to Clarence White; and Vol. 3 traces the West Coast career of the big-band style founded by Texan Bob Wills. An indispensable introduction to an underrecognized scene.
Vol. 1: A-
Vol. 2: A
Vol. 3: A-