Black Music Matters Festival

Alan Jackson

Greatest Hits Volume II – 2003 (Arista)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

When it comes go greatest of anything country, Alan Jackson is right up there at the top. While other artists carve a greatest hits discs out of a few songs and a bunch of also rans, Jackson is legit when he calls this a greatest hits package. Of the 17 songs, two are new (and 1 of them, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" just hit number 1) and only 1 other wasn't a legitimate hit (Hank Jr.s' "The Blues Man").

What has made Jackson the star that he deserves to be is sticking to his roots. He has never opted to trade his jeans and blue collar approach towards country for musical slickness. There are no blaring guitars to be heard here.

In fact, it's Jackson's vocals that carry the day time and again. You can sense he easily feels the pain in "Gone Crazy" turning in a soft version. And, of course, Jackson periodically tackles social issues, much to his credit ("Little Man") or times gone by ("Where I Come From").

Jackson also includes a second disc of eight previously songs that he apparently liked quite a lot, but they were never released as singles. Basically, Jackson is giving the songs a second chance at being heard. Basically reprising songs since 1996, Jackson demonstrates quite ably why he is an artist for the ages.