21 Number Ones (Kenny Rogers) – Compilation Album

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on July 13, 2009

The Artwork & The Packaging Are Excellent

The Artwork & The Packaging Are Excellent

Kenny Rogers is one of these country artists that have achieved immense success in the pop and adult charts. Although I am very fond of country sounds, I always postponed buying a compilation of his because the ones I had listened to had a preponderance of ballads, and just a slice of country numbers. Last year, however, I saw this generous compilation at one of the annual sales that CD Warehouse (one of the major record stores in Uruguay) holds at a price that made taking a chance a negligible matter.

“Generous” is the perfect word for this. Released in early 2006, it features all of Mr. Rogers’ chart topping cuts as well as a bonus track, and the CD clocks at almost 80:00. The booklet is also very informative, with liner notes penned by the man himself.
When it comes to the big crunch, my preconception of such a compilation was accurate – many ballads and some faster-paced numbers that break the monotony. I have to make a horrible confession: the album put me to sleep the first two times I listened to it. The one and only other album that did the very same thing to me was Robert Wyatt’s Shleep. The really funny part is that I always fell asleep before what was to become my favorite section of the collection, starting with “All I Ever Need Is You” (a cover of Cher’s lively song, performed by Kenny and frequent associate Dottie West), the incredibly touching “Buy Me a Rose” (easily one of the best ballads in here), and ending in “Morning Desire”, a song which is a bit hard to define as it moves between textures that stray from the overall tone of the disc – and that is a compliment.

To be fair, the first part of the album is not really that bad. No album that includes “The Gambler” and “Coward Of The County” could get off to a bad start. Besides, the tender “Through The Years” is right at the beginning, after “The Gambler”. But songs like “We’ve Got Tonight”, “I Don’t Need You”, “Share Your Love With Me” and “Every Time Two Fools Collide” make you wonder if there was a mistake when your CD was pressed and you got the same song in different places.

I just mentioned that my favorite part of the album is the one nearing its conclusion, but I deliberately omitted talking about the song I esteem the most from that section: “Daytime Friends”. It is a fast number with a great crescendo and a chorus to write home about. If only more songs like that were included, it would be a different story.

Speaking of which (and I know it is wrong to look a gift horse in the mouth), couldn’t the compilers include a more dynamic bonus track? I know it was a top three hit, but “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” (another duet, this time with Kim Carnes) is a ballad too many from an album that had more identical-sounding cuts than I feel at ease listening to in a single sitting.

Summing up, I don’t know whether this compilation as a whole is representative of Kenny Rogers career or not, or whether he gained so much prominence as a crossover artist that it was there (the world of pop and adult sounds) where he found his niche. The truth is that I am not really that motivated to find out more after listening to this album. I am glad I bought it. It was not a waste of time or money. But my Kenny Rogers collection starts and ends here. Agree? Disagree? Want to “buy me a rose”? Hehe. Your comments are as welcome as ever, folks.

Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into his catalog after listening to it: No

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rex Benson July 14, 2009 at 4:32 am

Hello: I am L.A. Music Publisher Rex Benson…I actually am the publisher of ‘BUY ME A ROSE’ which Kenny took to #1 in May of 2000 here in the States…First off, glad to hear you like our song, but sorry that Kenny’s body of work as a whole tends to lag a bit for you…That is typical of any great ballad artist and Kenny has certainly made a career of such…It’s a tough line to walk when your primary fanbase loves a particular style of song, but then when you back several of those songs up against one another on a given project, we just naturally tend to yearn for variety… Keep in mind that Kenny has been recording for 50 years and has recorded many great tempos and story songs, as well as love songs and duets…it just ‘happens’ that many of his biggest hits happen to be ballads…I’m sure if you went to other formats and listened to a Josh Groban HITS or a Julio Iglesias HITS package, you’d find the same thing to be true…Kenny is a worldclass artist with 105 million records sold worldwide, which last I looked placed him as the #8 selling artist of all time…I hope you will continue to seek out those gems within his magnificent career…Many thx…Rex Benson…REX BENSON MUSIC GROUP

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Emilio July 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Hi Rex, thank you so much for having taken the time to add your comments to the review. You make a very valid point – if you take the hits from a 50-year career and place them side to side some cuts are inevitably going to sound similar. The same happens to artists like the ones you mentioned, and I have experienced it first-hand with an artist I am very fond of and which I hope to cover soon: Sir Elton John. I thank you on behalf of the whole MusicKO community for having taken the time to provide us with your insight, that is the idea of the blog – to gather together and discuss the aspects that we like and the ones that we don’t about different artists, and provide enough information for all to have a better understanding of these musicians that mean something to us – artists that make us feel blessed for the emotion and sentiment their music conveys. I would like to ask you: is there a Kenny Rogers compilation that focuses on his “faster” numbers? That is something I would really like to give a spin. Have a great day, I look forwards to more comments from you soon!

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