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Essential Country Music Box Sets

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For a well rounded collection of country music, we've chosen 15 box sets that we feel are essential to every serious country music fan's collection. This includes country and bluegrass music from legendary artists such as Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and today's stars, like Dwight Yoakam and Garth Brooks.

1. Alabama - 'Livin', Lovin', Rockin' and Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection'

Alabama - Livin', Lovin', Rockin', Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection
RCA
Alabama has released Livin', Lovin', Rockin' and Rollin': The 25th Anniversary Collection. The three-CD set contains 26 No. 1 hits and several top 10 tracks, eight of which are previously unreleased. The booklet that comes with the packages has 52 pages of liner notes, including an essay by Nashville country music historian Robert K. Oermann. This box set celebrates the most successful band in the history of country music and commemorates their 25 years with RCA Records.
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2. Dolly Parton - 'The Acoustic Collection'

Dolly Parton - Acoustic Collection: 1999-2002
Sugar Hill
Dolly Parton - The Acoustic Collection 1999-2002 is a box set that includes Dolly's three bluegrass albums plus a bonus DVD, which holds some great footage and bonus material all collected in one convenient spot. The little booklet in the case has the story behind the making of the albums. The DVD includes new song mixes, a couple of which are tracks from the tribute album to Dolly done by other artists. This is a great collector's item to have.
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3. Dwight Yoakam - 'Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Brothers Years'

After 20 some years of peddling his music and 16 years signed with Warner/Reprise, Dwight Yoakam has finally released a four-CD box set that captures a nice selection of the best of his years at Reprise, plus a lot of surprise extras and unreleased tracks that should be a real treat for any long-time Dwight Yoakam fan and a perfect starter for anyone new to Yoakam's unique hillbilly-rock sound.
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4. Emmylou Harris - 'Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems'

Emmylou Harris - 'Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems'
Rhino
To create this boxed set, Emmylou Harris looked back to the earliest parts of her career in music. Throughout this collection you will hear 71 songs that will take you all the way back to Emmylou's days with Gram Parsons. There is an awesome booklet that comes along with this set that everyone can enjoy. It is full of great pictures and stories that takes you on a trip down memory lane.
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5. Garth Brooks - 'Limited Series 2005'

Garth Brooks - The Limited Series Box Set (2005)
Garth Brooks
This is Garth Brooks' second box set entitled the Limited Series. Pretty confusing, really. While his first box set included his first six albums, this includes his last three, the two-CD set Double Live, Sevens, and Scarecrow, plus a disc of brand new unreleased music and a DVD with Garth interviews and concert footage.
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6. George Strait - 'Strait Out Of The Box'

Released in 1995, George Strait's Strait Out of the Box is a comprehensive collection of songs spanning the first 20 years of his career. It includes 31 of his number one hits, 11 more chart singles of great musical impact, 19 LP tracks, and 11 more rare tracks that are anything but leftovers.

If you're interested ONLY in his number one songs, you may want to get 50 Number Ones, which contains nearly all but four (at the time of this posting) of the number one songs in his career.
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7. Hank Williams - 'The Unreleased Recordings'

Hank Williams - 'The Unreleased Recordings'
Time Life
In 1951, Hank Williams recorded 143 songs for Mother's Best Flour Company. These songs included many of his hits, as well as songs he had never recorded commercially anywhere else. This box set includes 54 of those songs. The remaining 89 songs will be released in separate installments over the next three years.
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8. Johnny Cash - 'The Legend'

Johnny Cash - Cash the Legend
Legacy Recordings
This is my all-time favorite Johnny Cash box set. There are over 100 songs on four different CDs. There is also a little flip section with an autobiography and many photos. The songs range from his early years -- "Hey Porter," "I Walk the Line" and "Folsom Prison Blues," his duets with June Carter Cash ("Jackson" and "If I Were a Carpenter") -- to his later work, such as the poignant duet with daughter Rosanne Cash, "September When it Comes." Add to that seven previously unreleased tracks. Definitely a collection for any fan of the "Man in Black."
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9. Loretta Lynn - 'Honky Tonk Girl: The Loretta Lynn Collection'

Loretta Lynn - 'Honky Tonk Girl: The Loretta Lynn Collection'
MCA Nashville
This three-CD box set was released in 1994, including many tracks appearing on CD for the first time. It covers Loretta Lynn's early hits from the '60s like "Honky Tonk Girl," "Blue Kentucky Girl," and "You Ain't Woman Enough," to gems like "The Pill" from the '70s, and "I Lie" from the '80s. You'll also find her duet recordings with Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb.
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10. Merle Haggard - 'Down Every Road'

Down Every Road - Merle Haggard
Capitol Nashville
It's hard to compress a review of a box set into a small space, but when it comes to Merle Haggard, you can at least put it in a nutshell: it's Merle and it's great. There's not a whole lot else to say. The four discs are set up in chronological order, from Merle's early recordings, before he'd found his own distinct sound, through the deeply moving 1993 "In My Next Life," which tells its own tale very eloquently.
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