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Joe Diffie

Greatest Hits – 1998 (Sony)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Joe Diffie

Diffie just doesn't seem to get much respect; he hasn't had much chart success lately, while those who like to talk about "NashVegas" generally hold that he's a lightweight. A listen to this album, though, reveals an artist of some depth wrestling with a musical split personality, aggravated by the constraints of country radio.

Nine of Diffie's biggest hits are here, together with three new cuts. Among the former are a couple of well-sung ballads ("Ships That Don't Come In," "So Help Me Girl"), a couple of well-crafted stories ("John Deere Green," "Home," "Bigger Than The Beatles") and a brace of Southern-rockin' honkytonkers, but as a whole, the collection doesn't make much of a case for taking him seriously. It's not that there aren't some clever songs and some just pure fun ones, but they don't leave a deep impression, and it's clear that Diffie's singing is stronger than most of the material. The selection including the new songs - will probably suit those who arealready fans just fine, but isn't likely to make many new ones.