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Joe Nichols

Greatest Hits – 2011 (Show Dog-Universal)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Joe Nichols

Greatest hits collections are easy to take to task for two things - 1) Does it cover an artist's chart success completely, and 2) Does it offer anything new? Sad to say, on this package, it's lacking on both counts. There's not a single new track here, and only 10 songs total. Even a cover tune would have been a welcome token. And as the Nichols faithful can attest, some very entertaining lesser lights that enjoyed decent airplay got left off the table.

Across seven studio records, Nichols has posted quite a few high points. Many first became aware of the Arkansas native and his deep drawl in 2002 from his second record, "Man with a Memory." That album contained the inspiring number The Impossible, which still generates goose-bumps, along with Brokenheartsville. This kiss-off track found great middle ground between the slow Nichols number that overflows with feeling, and the more raucous ones, with their sly, quotable lines. Brokenheartsville still holds up, and Nichols arguably hasn't outdone it yet.

The compilation does get a few things right in that all three of the number one records are here (Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off and Gimmie That Girl being the others). And there's nothing that stretches or defies the definition of "hit." But there's no getting around it that certain songs deserve inclusion, prime candidates being She Only Smokes When She Drinks and Believers.

Nichols is certainly still a work in progress at age 34, and some of his hits are less than 2 years old. So, the whole project may be premature. If this package is appropriate for an artist at this stage, it deserved a fuller look back than this.