18 Songs, 1 Hour 15 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Longtime listeners will gripe that BEST ignores a large swath of Keen’s catalogue — it contains nothing from The Live Album or West Textures, nor does it have anything from his late-‘90s output, due to licensing issues with Arista and Lost Highway. Those hang-ups aside, this is an inclusive portrait of Keen’s art. All of his crucial qualities are represented: his black humor (“Merry Christmas from the Family”), his wholehearted romance (“For Love”), his feel for humanistic portraits (“Ride”) and his love for travelogues (“Gringo Honeymoon,” “Corpus Christi Bay”). The collection shows that Keen has been able to walk from bluegrass to rock ’n’ roll and back to pure country, without ever compromising his core persona. The collection gives a whopping 12 minutes over to the 1996 live version of “The Road Goes On Forever” and its spoken introduction, but those 12 minutes might be the most essential part of this disc. Not only because they highlight Keen’s storytelling skills and his passionate playing but because they integrate the hoots and hollers of his longtime Texas audience. With the help of BEST maybe more people will catch on to what those folks already know.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Longtime listeners will gripe that BEST ignores a large swath of Keen’s catalogue — it contains nothing from The Live Album or West Textures, nor does it have anything from his late-‘90s output, due to licensing issues with Arista and Lost Highway. Those hang-ups aside, this is an inclusive portrait of Keen’s art. All of his crucial qualities are represented: his black humor (“Merry Christmas from the Family”), his wholehearted romance (“For Love”), his feel for humanistic portraits (“Ride”) and his love for travelogues (“Gringo Honeymoon,” “Corpus Christi Bay”). The collection shows that Keen has been able to walk from bluegrass to rock ’n’ roll and back to pure country, without ever compromising his core persona. The collection gives a whopping 12 minutes over to the 1996 live version of “The Road Goes On Forever” and its spoken introduction, but those 12 minutes might be the most essential part of this disc. Not only because they highlight Keen’s storytelling skills and his passionate playing but because they integrate the hoots and hollers of his longtime Texas audience. With the help of BEST maybe more people will catch on to what those folks already know.

TITLE TIME

More By Robert Earl Keen

You May Also Like