Over the course of his first decade as a recording artist, Michael W. Smith evolved from a mild-mannered purveyor of synthesizer pop into a credible rocker able to tell stories through music. Commercially, he demonstrated an ability to score mainstream hits like “I Will Be Here for You” and “Go West Young Man” while retaining his hold on his Christian fan base. As a messenger for the Word, he found creative ways to express spiritual themes, stretching the limits of the Christian music genre in the process. Not surprisingly, The First Decade: 1983-1993 largely concentrates upon his best-known tunes, from his debut Christian chart-topper “Great Is the Lord” through his minor (but still appealing) hit “Kentucky Rose.” From the heart-tugging “Friends” to the street-savvy “Rocketown” and the anthemic “Place In This World,” the arc of Smith's career is traced in these tracks. Fans might want to seek out his individual albums for worthwhile lesser-known songs, but as a well-balanced introduction to this enduring artist’s beginnings, this collection serves quite nicely.