Keith Whitley released so little music before his premature death in 1989 that The Essential Keith Whitley contains almost all of his first two releases—1984’s A Hard Act to Follow and 1985’s L.A. to Miami—plus a selection of songs from his final two albums, 1988’s Don’t Close Your Eyes and 1989’s I Wonder Do You Think of Me, the latter of which was released after his death. Whitley’s first two albums sometimes get unfairly disregarded by critics. The early songs aren’t as developed as those on Don’t Close My Eyes, but they have an urgency all their own. The Whitley of “Turn Me to Love” and “Hard Livin’” belongs to the lonely nightclub circuit, an amateur on the verge of success, while the Whitley of “I Wonder Do You Think of Me” sounds like a mature Nashville veteran, even though Whitley was just in his early 30s at the time. Whitley never got the chance to enjoy the fame he deserved, but his legend lives on in this overview, which keeps alive a portrait of the artist as a hungry traveler with a voice matched only by the grandmasters who preceded him.
Turn Me to Love
Living Like There's No Tomorrow (Finally Got to Me Tonight)
A Hard Act to Follow
If a Broken Heart Could Kill
If You Think I'm Crazy Now (You Should Have Seen Me When I Was a Kid)