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Kenny Rogers
A Love Song Collection
Capitol Records
www.kennyrogers.com


I grew up listening to country radio in the '70s and early '80s. It was a time of flux, transitioning the hillbilly tendencies of the genre towards a more mainstream pop sensibility. This was not necessarily a good thing, and today has driven "country" music to the likes of Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood… artists that have absolutely nothing to do with country music except the occasional promotional photo with a cowboy hat on their heads. On the other hand, back in the 1970s, this countrypolitan move gave us such amazing songsmiths as Kenny Rogers, who after fronting the rock band The First Edition went on to be responsible for more children conceived while listening to country music than anyone else in history. His songs have always been good, and his voice, to this day, is still like the best Gouda cheese… tasty, smooth, with just a hint of fire.

A Love Song Collection brings together a sampling of the balladry that has come to make Rogers so incredibly famous in both country and pop circles. From his earlier years come songs like the amazingly syncopated "Love Will Turn You Around" and the beautiful epic balladry of "You Decorated My Life." "She Believes In Me" is a sure bet for those loveless, lonesome nights, while the classic "Lady" had to be included simply because it is one of the finest songs ever recorded. Some of Kenny's classic duets are included here as well. He joins Kim Carnes on "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer", sings the 80's ballad "We've Got Tonight" with Sheena Easton, and who could forget the incredible "Islands In The Stream" with his long-time co-conspirator Dolly Parton. More recently, Kenny recorded an incredible version of "Buy Me A Rose" with Alison Krauss and Billy Dean, and that makes a great inclusion… if you've never heard some of his newer tracks, this is a nice gateway recording. But no Kenny Rogers love song collection would be complete without the incredible piano ballad "Through The Years" that closes out this great compilation.

The only real glaring omission that I can think of is "What A Difference You Made In My Life"… but if that's all I can think of to complain about, well, then this is a great collection. If you've been a fan of the Gambler for decades or simply need some fine love songs to get your partner to remember the magic of falling in love, this is a fine selection of some of Kenny's Finest… possibly some of the finest crossover love songs of all time.

-Embo Blake

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