Tracy Byrd

Keepers: Greatest Hits

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Keepers: Greatest Hits is an excellent summary of Tracy Byrd's first five albums, collecting the very best of his hits. Included are the radio version of "The Keeper of the Stars" (rather than the earlier recording that appeared on No Ordinary Man) and a new song, "When Mama Ain't Happy," neither of which appear on other Byrd albums. The collection makes plain that there are two sides to Byrd's career. The first, and most familiar, comprise the lighthearted staples of new country radio like "Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous" and "Watermelon Crawl." These songs border on the formulaic, playing up the stereotypes of Southern culture. The other side of Byrd's musical personality is that of a neo-traditionalist balladeer. "Heaven in My Woman's Eyes" sounds like Merle Haggard singing to a Marty Robbins backing track, and both "Someone to Give My Love To" and "Don't Take Her She's All I Got" are stellar covers of early-'70s Johnny Paycheck hits. With these songs, Byrd's interpretive skills are given a chance to really shine. While his commercial successes have been the campy favorites, Tracy Byrd's lasting artistic triumphs are the ballads.

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