Country Classics: Many Country fans will invariably head to this CD first as Brooks salutes many of his biggest influences inside the genre. He tips the hat to Buck Owens on a rowdy version of “Act Naturally,” gives a stone-cold performance of Haggard’s “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down,” and pays tribute to George Jones with a rollicking version of “White Lightning.” However, the cream of the crop of this disc is a soaring version of Conway & Loretta’s “After The Fire Is Gone,” with his lovelier (no offense, Garth!) half, Trisha Yearwood and an utterly gorgeous take on Don Williams’ “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” though he also does a fabulous version on Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” that needs to be heard. When Brooks is at his most traditional, there are few better
Melting Pot: A collection of songs that seem to bridge many musical styles, Brooks sounds equally at home on these cuts. From the opener, the Doobie Brothers’”Black Water,” to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” he runs the musical gamut with great success. At the end of the day, the one-two 70s punch of Pure Prairie League’s “Amie” and Jim Croce’s “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” will leave fans smiling. That being said, theT biggest surprise of the disc is a nod to The Band’s “The Weight” that he more than pulls off.
Classic Rock: In addition to being a fan of George Jones and James Taylor, Brooks grew up a fan of such classic Rock groups as Kiss (His 1994 cover of “Hard Luck Woman” remains one of his most underrated studio moments). So, it’s only natural that Brooks show that side of his growing up years, as well. Songs like “Against The Wind” and “Life In The Fast Lane” definitely had to be a part of his life growing up in Yukon, and it shows. He also cooks on “Midnight Rider” and gives a dramatic take on Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.”
Blue Eyed Soul: Wow. I wasn’t prepared for this one. This is a sound from Brooks that I haven’t heard before, and IMHO, this is the keeper of the set. While nobody has ever doubted him as a singer, being able to hold his own on such cuts as “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” says equal parts about his moxie – and his talent. I would love to hear him veer off in this direction on his future recordings. I don’t know if there are any radio plans for this material, but he could do worse than release his stunning version of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” This is great stuff, to say the least.
The Ultimate Hits: Originally released five years ago, this serves as a reminder of the legacy that Brooks has had on the industry. Listening to this music all these years later, it’s amazing to note how revolutionary it still sounds. Think about it. How different would his music – whether it be the thought-provoking emotions of “The Dance” or the free-for-all spirit of “Friends In Low Places” sound if he had come out today? Country music – and radio needs Garth Brooks, plain and simple.
Blame It All On My Roots: Live At The Wynn: A DVD of his successful stint at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Brooks performs many of the songs – hits and covers that are included on this collection. It’s the most intimate that you will ever see the singer, as he captivates the crowd from beginning to end. My favorite moments on the disc are a nice take on Keith Whitley’s “Ten Feet Away” and a powerful duet with Yearwood on “The Call” - one that I think we’ll be hearing from again. All in all, a great reminder of what he is....what he’s been, and possibly, what’s to come? We can only hope!