Number One Hits
[Rating: 4 Stars]
Starting with his second album (the first one was really just a warmup), Tim McGraw has shown a knack for being able to pick good songs, as well as songs that might not be so good but that his audience will pay to hear him sing. Or maybe some of that knack has been on the part of producers Byron Gallimore and James Stroud or the staff at Curb Records. Whatever. All that matters is that the guy has consistently ruled the charts, that he’s been able to show up with one number one single after another, and that he’s grown as an artist and a businessman in the process.
McGraw’s Number One Hits features chart-topping singles from all phases of his career, from his first number one (Craig Martin and Larry W. Johnson’s “Don’t Take the Girl”) to his latest, the Bob DiPiero/Tom Douglas title track of Southern Voice. The Stephony Smith-penned “It’s Your Love,” the duet with wife Faith Hill, is also here, as well as one of the inexplicably most played singles of all time, Rick Ferrell and Steve Follese’s “Something Like That.”
Not everything on this two-CD set was a number one record, actually. The dance mix of Tommy Barnes, Jumpin’ Gene Simmons and John D. Loudermilk’s “Indian Outlaw,” which didn’t reach the top of the charts but is regarded as McGraw’s breakthrough single, is included here. But it doesn’t really work all that well as a dance mix in 2010, when great dance mixes are an entire industry unto themselves. And since every package like this needs a new cut to attract buyers who already have much of an artist’s product, the mediocre new single “Felt Good on My Lips,” written by Brett and Jim Beavers and Brett and Brad Warren, is thrown in for good measure.
This career retrospective also includes Rodney Crowell and Will Jennings’ “Please Remember Me,” George Teren and Rivers Rutherford’s “Real Good Man,” and Bruce Robison’s “Angry All the Time.” And of course, this collection wouldn’t be complete without Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols’ Grammy-nominated “Live Like You Were Dying,” which was named the number one country song of 2004 by Billboard. It’s interesting to consider how McGraw might be somewhat limited as a vocalist, but has consistently recorded good, even great, material by the top writers on Music Row, and has never been afraid to take a chance on a song that probably shouldn’t have worked for him (i.e., “Angry All the Time,” also included here).
There’s little here that we haven’t heard before, but that’s the point, and the song sequencing is smart in terms of opening each disc strongly and encouraging listeners to hear everything without track-hopping. If you’re a McGraw fan, or know someone who is this Christmas, this package is as good as it gets.