Combining aloof humor with a laid-back, devil-may-care island attitude, Jimmy Buffett sang songs about alcohol consumption, lazing around in the sun, and the freedom of not having to work for a living. Songs You Know By Heart is a solid offering of Buffett's greatest hits, pulling together his truly strongest material and avoiding the unnecessary filler that appears on his albums. His claim to fame, "Margaritaville," is the jewel in the crown here, which still harbors that tropical feel thanks to its Caribbean-styled rhythm and relaxed flow. "Come Monday" picks up where "Margaritaville" leaves off, only this ballad plays out with subdued sincerity and has Buffett sounding strangely serious, and romantic. Most of the songs from Buffett are centered around his frolicking lifestyle, like the comical "Cheeseburger in Paradise" or the naughtiness of "Why Don't We Get Drunk," an ode to his party-filled outlook on life. Buffett's voice shines on the clever "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," which again spotlights his love of living without concern, especially in someplace warm. The catchy and whimsical "Fins" is lifted by a contagious pace with a smart chorus and serves as one of the highlights of this collection. As a compilation, this bunch of Jimmy Buffett's most famous tunes contains just the right amount of tracks. Any less would be inconsistent and any more would be deemed as overkill.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne