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