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Mark Wills

Greatest Hits – 2002 (Mercury)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Mark Wills

Mark Wills is king of the mid-tempo country ballad, and all the necessary proof is right here in the plodding of this greatest hits package. It's a collection of nine singles - plus two extra tracks - characterized by soft rock guitar, piano and drums, which support Wills as he squeezes every last ounce of sincerity from his vocals.

"Jacob's Ladder" begins this retrospective by riding on a slight bounce, but then it all bogs down to a crawl after that. What follows next is a slow motion wade through tales of adoration ("Places I've Never Been," "I Do"), a plea for tolerance ("Don't Laugh At Me") and stories of regret ("Wish You Were Here," "Almost Doesn't Count").

All this slow dancing turns "19 Somethin'" into a real happy feet break. Wills co-wrote this nostalgic trip down a '70s memory lane with Chris Lindsey, and anybody who remembers seeing the original "Star Wars" in the theatre or ever had a Farrah Fawcett poster on the bedroom wall, will get a chuckle out of this newly recorded song. Best of all, guitars are allowed to ring on it, and Wills even sounds like he's starting to work up a sweat while he's singing. Unfortunately, this slight burst of energy is only one small blip on an otherwise inactive radar screen.