Tanya Tucker wasn't just a great country singer -- she was a great country story, growing up in the public eye from her first Top Ten single, "Delta Dawn" in 1972, to her last, "Little Things" in 1997. In between, she racked up numerous hits and tabloid headlines, causing controversy at the outset of her career with her sexiness and provocative material that sounded even riskier in the hands of a 14-year-old singer. Soon, the country Lolita image gave way to a wild young woman who had an affair with Merle Haggard and a broken engagement with Glen Campbell; musically, the pure progressive country of her early recordings gave way to a flirtation with pop and rock, before she swung back to country. Then, she cleaned up and straightened out her music, turning toward a mature country-pop that brought her through the '90s. It was a hell of a ride, with a hell of a lot of good music, all chronicled on Raven's double-disc, 48-track The Upper 48 Hits: 1972-1997, the most comprehensive and best overview of her career ever likely to be assembled. This collection is so good not just because the music is generally excellent, but because the sequencing has a real narrative drive, mirroring the ups and downs, triumphs and turmoil of Tucker's career. When she hit a low point in her career, this collection does too -- there is a bit of a dip somewhere after the early '80s, when her music became a little bit too streamlined, but she comes tearing back with a series of sexy, husky voiced, rowdy singles that propels her to the successful, tasteful material of the '90s. Yes, it's the earliest material that is the most distinctive -- her early-'70s breakthroughs "Delta Dawn," "What's Your Mama's Name, Child?," "Blood Red and Going Down," "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)?," "The Man That Turned My Mama On," and "Lizzie and the Rainman" among them -- because the songs were risky and strong, the productions adventurous, and the performances shockingly mature. That was music in a class of its own, but Tanya Tucker herself was in her own class too -- she was a survivor, and while her career did see a few valleys, she pulled through and wound up with a terrific body of work, best heard on this stellar collection.