Linda Ronstadt’s first major collection of hits surfaced in 1976. It was to be followed by a second volume in 1980. Between them, they give you a good overall insight into a woman that set records in the history of contemporary music, and that showed that women could be up there in a scene predominantly occupied by male performers.
The first volume has 12 songs, including the number 1 hit “Long, Long Time”, Linda’s first country hit (a phenomenal cover of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles”) and also her first hit ever when she was part of the Stone Poneys. The song is called “Different Drum” and it is an enjoyable ditty that tells of the different wavelengths of love and how complicated it can be adjusting to each other’s frequency. Something we all can relate to, actually.
The compilation starts in the best possible way with “You’re No Good”, and it closes with “Track Of My Tears”. These are two songs that have a true thematic bond, as the ending of romantic relationships is studied from opposite extremes. It is as if the rest of the album provided us with additional material and then it is up to us to arrive at our own conclusions, and determine what is the point in loving someone that when crossed means we will begin loving ourselves a little less as a result.
Linda’s ability to cover other artists, and turn the songs inside out with her heartfelt renditions until the listener can’t conceive another person but Linda Ronstadt could ever sing that particular piece manifests itself throughout the record. She covers Neil Young (“Love Is A Rose”, a mandolin-driven number) as well as The Everly Brothers’ perennial “When Will I Be Loved” and Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day”. Of course, she also sings The Eagles’ “Desperado” in her usual all-or-nothing fashion.
It is a bit hard to conceive this album without its companion volume, but if I were really hard-pressed I think I would pick “Greatest Hits I” over “Greatest Hits II”. I feel this volume is more consistent from start to finish, whereas its successor has some better individual moments. But I would be deeply sorry if I had to make that choice. Also, note that a recent CD reissue (2007) has brought the two volumes together in the same disc. I advice you to pick that one immediately if you ever come across it.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into her catalog after listening to it: Yes