Start a conversation about country music in the 1990's, and Joe Diffie's name may not be at the top of the list. But continue on for a minute or two, and the Oklahoman will definitely get mentioned. From 1990-99, Diffie was one of the most consistent artists in the Top 10. He achieved that success with traditionalist ballads like Is It Cold In Here and barnburner novelties, like Pickup Man and Honky Tonk Attitude
Diffie closed out the 2000-decade by releasing a pair of albums in its final month - a "Live At Billy Bob's Fort Worth Album" that captured the essence of his live show, and "The Ultimate Collection" - a 20-tune disc which has most of the same songs as the live album, in a re-done studio version. The Collection should please Diffie fans and allow those new to country music to appreciate an artist who started with a traditional bent and later recorded some of the more humorous songs that the genre has seen: John Deere Green and Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die).
There aren't any new songs on the album, but Diffie does provide some interesting anecdotes in the album's liner notes; he almost didn't record Home, the tender tribute to his Oklahoma roots and didn't like If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets) - until it topped the charts. And he explains how he thought Garth Brooks was going to record Third Rock From The Sun, the song that Diffie uses to kick off his live shows.