42 Ultimate Hits

by: Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers compilations tend to drift in and out of print, yet in a sense it doesn't matter much, because most featured most of the big hits. However, very few contained them all and, as of 2004, the only collection in print that contained all his big hits, from the First Edition through the mid-'80s, was 1999's four-disc box set Through the Years, which was too exhaustive for all but dedicated Rogers fans. So, there was a need for a new, relatively concise collection that featured all the hits; hence Capitol's 42 Ultimate Hits, a double-disc set that spans Kenny's entire career, from the First Edition to two new tracks, including a duet with Whitney Duncan. There's not much missing -- a few First Edition singles, along with several post-Eyes That See in the Dark hits that weren't all that memorable, neither of which are missed -- and it could even be argued that it stretches a little bit too far into the present on its second disc, which loses its momentum halfway through. Nevertheless, these are minor complaints, since the bulk of the collection provides Kenny Rogers' biggest songs -- among them "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Lucille," "Every Time Two Fools Collide," "The Gambler," "Coward of the County," "You Decorated My Life," "Lady," "Love Will Turn You Around," and "Islands in the Stream" -- in a chronological order and a listenable sequence. It may fall a little short of definitive, but it's still the best compilation on the market as of this writing. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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