often misses out when the greatest country & western singers of all time are surveyed, but he was certainly one of the best. A Canadian transplant, he understood the desolate life of the Southwest deeply, and evoked it perfectly. (Even though he grew up in Nova Scotia, he spent most of his adolescence on a fishing boat.) His deep, steady warble resisted most attempts at crossover, but he used it perfectly; it's no coincidence that Willie Nelson
, who often phrased closer to blues or jazz than country, loved him and recorded a full album with Snow
in 1985. Bear Family has surveyed Snow
's studio career over a series of box sets -- including no less than 20 discs just for the American-based, major-label recordings that began in 1950 with his hit "I'm Movin' On" -- but they also offered a series of four thematic compilations in 2008 for those who want a steady middle ground (more music than the hits compilations offer, but less than the completist route). In total, they serve as a good portrait of Snow
's great career, although they bypass the straight country and honky tonk material he did so well. Snow South of the Border
includes 33 tracks recorded throughout his career (1943-1978), and show him excelling at the Anglicized version of Mexican ranchera music that was popular in country music during the '50s and '60s.