Patsy Montana,
The Best of Patsy Montana
(Collector's Choice, 2001)

Patsy Montana's most successful years were 1934 to 1940, the period covered by these recordings. Patsy later re-recorded some of her songs, but these are the originals. Her most famous song, "I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," sold a million copies -- no mean feat for a country record in the 1930s.

That song is a good example of Patsy's style, mixing mountain ballads with cowboy songs and plenty of yodeling. The melody was written by Stuart Hamblen, most famous as the writer of "This Ole House," a major international hit for Rosemary Clooney in the '50s and a British No. 1 hit for Shaking Stevens in the '80s.

"Woman's Answer to Nobody's Darling" is a reply to the Jimmie Rodgers classic "Nobody's Darling but Mine." "I Only Want a Buddy Not a Sweetheart" was a popular song in the '30s, although nobody had a hit with the song -- this surprises me, as I have come across several excellent versions.

Patsy was the first woman to succeed in country music but she did not blaze the trail for those that followed, as country remained a male bastion for many years. The Dinning Sisters and Patti Page emerged from Oklahoma in the '40s, but they found success as pop singers. Rose Maddox had some success as lead singer of the Maddox Brothers & Rose, but it was not until Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline emerged in the '50s that women were taken even half-seriously as country singers.

So Patsy must be regarded as a one-off. Her music was of its time, unlike anything ever recorded by other female country singers in the decades that followed. This is the best collection of Patsy's music available, or ever likely to be.

- Rambles
written by Peter D. Harris
published 20 September 2003

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