The Hits

Garth Brooks

Capitol Nashville, 1994

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


First, say this for The Hits -- it definitely meets the "truth in advertising" test.

By 1994, Garth Brooks had issued five albums (not counting Christmas discs) and scored multiple chart hits off of each. The time was ripe for a hits album, and this one delivered. It is simply a dynamite collection, packed with almost every top-quality song issued during the strongest creative stretch of one of the most important country artists of the past two decades. The track listing merely states the obvious, and the scrambled, non-chronological run order actually works, pacing the album well between upbeat songs and ballads.

So what're we gonna talk about for the next 400 words, then? Plenty.

The Hits' one failing -- some might argue -- is that it sticks purely to already-issued material and offers nothing new. This is typically a gripe you hear from longtime fans who already have all the individual discs these songs are pulled from, and don't want to buy them a second time without some sort of extra incentive. Personally, though, I'm more of a greatest hits purist -- I'd rather have the album title be accurate than have some new song that may or may not rate the label be given a free pass onto a "greatest hits" album. And any serious GB fan would want this album anyway just for Brooks' excellent liner notes, in which he shares his thoughts about the development of each song and what each means to him.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One of the most remarkable things about this disc can be found deep in the booklet. Each song gets its own page, but each page only lists a handful of guest players until you get to the back, where there is a list marked simply "Musicians." As in Brooks' studio band, as in the same seven guys playing on every single song on this collection, which spans the years 1989 to 1994. That's only five years, but about a hundred million fans, two network TV specials and five platinum albums' worth of difference for GB himself. Almost any other solo artist you can think of would have replaced one or more of these guys somewhere along the way with a better-known, more expensive player. Not Brooks. Not even once. He used with the same seven guys on Scarecrow in 2001 as he did on Garth Brooks in 1989. And that word you're searching your mind for is -- loyalty.

The same could be said about Brooks and songwriters -- he's relied on the same core group of songwriting talent his entire career, repeatedly co-writing with or covering tunes by Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls"), Kent Blazy ("Ain't Goin' Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up"), Kim Williams ("Papa Loved Mama"), Stephanie Davis ("We Shall Be Free"), Jenny Yates ("Standing Outside The Fire"), Larry Bastian ("Rodeo"), Tony Arata ("The Dance"), DeWayne Blackwell ("Friends In Low Places"), Bryan Kennedy ("American Honky-Tonk Bar Association") and others. It's given his music a distinct voice -- and then there's that loyalty thing again, too.

When it came out in 1994, The Hits was announced as a "limited time only" release. It was -- if you consider the eight million copies sold that year "limited." For the casual fan, this is a great pick-up in the "used" bin at your local music emporium. For the serious fan, you already have it...

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Nashville, and is used for informational purposes only.