Eddy Arnold's approach to country and his rich, expressive baritone voice always seemed closer to pop singers like Bing Crosby
and Perry Como
than it did to more rustic country stars like Hank Snow
and Ernest Tubb
, and he worked with pop songwriters out of New York as much or more than he used Nashville ones. His approach reaped dividends, certainly, and he charted countless hits in a truly astounding seven-decade career, and if he was never fully embraced by the public as a pop singer, he brought a kind of urbane dignity and grace to country music in the bargain, prefiguring the so-called Nashville countrypolitan sound as early as 1955. This three-disc, 77-track set collects all of his charting singles, both the A- and B-sides, released between 1945 and 1962, all on RCA Records, and it reveals a fascinating transformation from Arnold's early tenure as a hillbilly singer to his later stance as the man who melded country and pop together into what was essentially a whole new musical form.