by Robert Earl KeenRobert Earl Keen


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Robert Earl Keen is an archetypical Texas singer/songwriter, someone who can mine both laughter and tragedy from life along the dusty margins of life in the Lone Star State, and seeing that he's been recording good-to-great albums of his material since 1984, a comprehensive and well-programmed compilation offering a fully rounded introduction to his music would be more than welcome. However, 2007's Best isn't quite that album. While Keen had recorded a dozen albums by the time this was released, Best draws its 17 tunes from only six discs, two of which are live albums and three of which (Farm Fresh Onions, What I Really Mean and Live at the Ryman) are relatively recent efforts that presumably dominate the second half of this collection because they were easy to license rather than because they represent Keen's finest work. Quite frankly, a number of Keen's best songs are missing, such as "Dreadful Selfish Crime," "The Front Porch Song" and "I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight," while fan favorites like "The Five Pound Bass," "The Buckin' Song," "Barbecue" and "The Bluegrass Widow" don't make the cut, either. That said, if Best doesn't quite present Keen's best material (or even all his best known), there's little arguing that what's here is great stuff; Keen, who compiled this disc, has edited a satisfying sampler, hitting a graceful balance between crowd pleasers like "Merry Christmas from the Family" and "The Road Goes on Forever" (the latter prefaced by a rambling story in which Keen loses his car and his girl but meets Willie Nelson) and more resonant numbers like "Corpus Christi Bay," "Whenever Kindness Fails" and "For Love." If you're looking for a concise, career-spanning overview of Robert Earl Keen's long career in music, Best isn't as much help as you might wish, but the consistent quality is a sure convincer if you or someone you know wants some evidence of Keen's very real talent as a tunesmith and a performer.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/26/2007
Label: Koch Records
UPC: 0684038411429
catalogNumber: 4114
Rank: 27689

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Robert Earl Keen   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Marty Stuart   Mandolin
Nanci Griffith   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Joe Ely   Pedal Steel Guitar
Lyle Lovett   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Ian McLagan   Organ
Danny Barnes   Banjo
Rich Brotherton   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Nick Connolly   Organ
Bryan Duckworth   Fiddle
Dave Durocher   Drums,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Fred Gumaer   Drums
John Hagen   Cello
Dan Huckabee   Dobro
Lloyd Maines   Pedal Steel Guitar
George Marinelli   Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Marty Muse   Pedal Steel Guitar
Riley Osborne   Piano
Michael Snow   Bodhran,Tenor Banjo
Jay Spell   Accordion
Tommy Spurlock   Acoustic Guitar,Pedal Steel Guitar,Gut String Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Paul Sweeney   Mandolin
Garry Tallent   Electric Bass,Upright Bass
Jonathan Yudkin   Violin
Denice Franke   Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Dan Augustine   Trombone,Tuba
Mike Landschoot   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Phil Richey   Trumpet
Tom Van Schaik   Percussion,Drums
Bill Schas   Trombone
Bill Whitbeck   Bass,Electric Bass,Bass Guitar
Elliott Rogers   Vocal Harmony
Eamon McLoughlin   Fiddle,Viola
Elliott Rogers   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Rich Brotherton   Producer,Audio Production
Robert Earl Keen   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Lloyd Maines   Producer,Audio Production
Garry Velletri   Producer,Audio Production
Dan Augustine   Horn Arrangements
Bill Whitbeck   Composer
Elizabeth Yoon   Art Direction
Melissa Story Haycraft   Executive Producer

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