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Gary Allan

Greatest Hits

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation of Gary Allan's biggest hits is a collection that is very good, but could have been much better. Since it's entitled “Greatest Hits” rather than “Best Of” there's a certain degree of limitation on what tracks can be included – that's just the nature of the beast. In this case that means the set is a bit too heavy on slow ballads. This factor could have been minimized, though, by moving some of the faster cuts into more advantageous positions to split up the mellow ones a bit more. As it is, we've got a collection of 15 strong tracks. Taken by themselves nothing suffers, but when listening to the set as a whole it tends to bog down a bit. As good as the music is, though, this is not really a big problem. Perhaps some careful programming on your CD player will eliminate the issue altogether (or moving the tracks into your iPod playlst and rearranging them). Either way this is a great introduction to a definite talent in country music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Feelin' Like That
The set starts with this country rocker. It's a high energy song, but still feels a bit like a ballad in terms of the lyrical content. The chorus is catchy and singable. It's a good song and a great way to lead off the festivities.
Right Where I Need To Be
Less raw, this ballad is country classic. It's a tale about the balance between family and career. This is a great track and one of the highlights of the set.
Songs About Rain
“Songs About Rain” has always reminded me of the Cracker song “Another Song About The Rain.” In fact, at first I thought this was a cover of that one. With the similarities I hear this one is a favorite of mine. I really like it a lot.
Smoke Rings in the Dark
This has a great mellow groove and is another standout cut. After two ballads in a row, though, it might have been nice to pump up the tempo a bit here. Still, as good as this is, with its slightly Chris Isaaks' texture, that's only a minor complaint.
Her Man
Were this song not as strong as it is, the “too many ballads in a row” effect would really be hitting here. The truth is, though, this is another great mellow number with a lot of emotion.
Best I Ever Had
Now is where we could really use an infusion of energy. Unfortunately we don't get it. That's a shame because this is actually one of the best ballads on show here, but it suffers from its positioning. This is pretty and evocative, but by now the slow songs are starting to blend together.
Nothin' On But the Radio
This is what we needed in the last slot. If this track and “Best I Ever Had” were reversed in position the CD would be a lot more effective. As it is, this twangy rocker is fun and a good change of pace.
Man to Man
We fall back into the slower territory with this one, and unfortunately it doesn't hold up as well as some of the other material here. If there is a point where this album really stumbles, this would be it. A combination of just average material and too many ballads hit pretty hard here.
The One
While this is another ballad, it holds up much better than the last track. That's because the arrangement and songwriting are both exceptional. This love song is pretty and emotional.
Lovin' You Against My Will
Not quite as strong as the last one, this ballad loses something from the overall mellow tone of the CD. I'd have to say it's another of the weak points of the disc. Don't get me wrong, it has its moments, but it's a bit too similar to a lot of the other stuff. Only some cool instrumental work really saves it from mediocrity.
It Would Be You
Even more sedate than the other balladic stuff on show here, the verse is among the mellowest on the album. The catchy, somewhat more rocking chorus saves this one, though. In fact, with different positioning on the set this would be one of the highlights of the CD. As it is, it's still quite good. The guitar solo on this one is noteworthy.
Man of Me
Here we get one of the most rocking tracks on the album. The disc would have been served by using this one to break up the ballads a bit better. This is a bluesy, country rocker that's a highlight of the disc.
Tough Little Boys
With piano in a prominent place on the arrangement here, this ballad doesn't get caught up in the sameness that some of the other stuff does. It's another evocative cut and one of the prettiest on the set.
As The Crow Flies
Here's another rocker that could have been used to better advantage in another position here. This powerhouse has an old R & B goes country approach that works really well. It's another highlight of the set. In fact, it's probably my second or third favorite here.
Life Ain't Always Beautiful
It's really a testament to the quality of the songwriting and performance on this one that it's one of the highlights of the disc, despite being “another ballad” on an album that has too many of them. It's a pretty and poignant piece of music that does a nice job of creating a satisfying ending.
 
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