#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 May 2009
This compilation was originally released to capitalize on the monumental success of Lady, which spent several weeks at number one in the American pop charts. That song, which was also a sizeable British hit that nearly made the top ten, never appeared on any of Kenny's original albums so anybody who wanted Lady had to choose between this compilation or the single. Not that anybody really minded because we were due another compilation of Kenny's music anyway since the previous compilation had been released and a lot had happened in that time.
Apart from Lady, this album featured one other new song, Long arm of the law, which is actually a fun song about a relationship. Unlike most of the other tracks here, which turn up frequently on compilations of Kenny's music, some more so than others, this one only turns up occasionally. Of the other tracks, Love the world away, which was a huge American hit for Kenny, first appeared on album on the Urban cowboy soundtrack. Like Lady and Long arm of the law, it never appeared on an original Kenny Rogers album. Every time two fools collide, a duet with Dottie West, was the title track to one of their duet albums.
Two songs that were originally successful for Kenny as lead singer of the First Edition (Ruby don't take your love to tow, Reuben James) are included here, but they aren't the original versions. They are among five re-recordings that Kenny did especially for his earlier American compilation, Ten years of gold, which was later repackaged with extra tracks for the British market and re-titled Singles. If you want the originals, you have to buy a First Edition compilation (unless you buy the 4-CD boxed set of Kenny`s music, which as far as I know is the only compilation featuring both First Edition and solo tracks). Many of the First Edition compilations are budget releases and don't mention the First Edition, but you can tell from the track listing what they are. They include those songs and others from the early part of Kenny's career but don't include any of the later classics, only some of which are featured here.
My favorite Kenny Rogers song is and always has been Lucille, the song that got me interested in his music. It made number one of the British pop charts, as did Coward of the county. Both songs were huge American pop hits but didn't make number one there. The gambler, Don't fall in love with a dreamer (a duet with Kim Carnes) and She believes in me are all outstanding songs. That just leaves You decorated my life, which is a great song although I feel that it's somewhat overshadowed in the exalted company in which it finds itself here.
One other point to note is that when this compilation was originally released on vinyl, the British version was titled Lady rather than Greatest hits, which was the American title, and included Kenny's brilliant cover of Goodbye Marie instead of the re-recording of Reuben James.
In its day, this was a truly outstanding compilation although some notable songs were missing (Daytime friends, Love or something like it, Sweet music man, Love lifted me and some other Dottie West duets among them) because vinyl albums were often restricted to ten or twelve tracks. Given the plethora of CD compilations now available, mostly having many more tracks, you may be better to buy one of those instead, but if you can pick up a cheap copy of this compilation, it still provides a great introduction to Kenny's music.