34 Number Ones

by: Alan Jackson

The 20-year anniversary of Alan Jackson’s first Top Ten hit is the perfect occasion to release a collection like 34 Number Ones, a double-disc set rounding up the great majority of his blockbusters. Technically, the title bends the truth a bit and not just because three of the cuts -- “Ring of Fire,” “Look at Me,” and the Zac Brown Band duet “As She’s Walking Away” -- are new. “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Here in the Real World,” “Tonight I Climbed the Wall,” “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All,” and “Who’s Cheatin’ Who” never topped the Billboard charts but a comprehensive Alan Jackson hits collection is unimaginable without them, so they’re here alongside all the number one hits from 1991 through 2008. Jackson certainly has more to offer than just number one singles -- his facility with slow-burning torch songs and gospel is absent here, as are several singles that never reached the upper echelon of the charts (“Pop a Top,” “The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues,” “USA Today,” “A Woman’s Love,” “www.memory,” “It’s Alright to Be a Redneck,” “When Somebody Loves You”) -- but by its very length 34 Number Ones is the first of his compilations to really suggest the depth and breadth of his body of work, and it’s a tremendously entertaining listen to boot. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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