Even though he racked up a lot of country hits during the mid- to late '70s, including a string of 14 consecutive Top Ten singles, Johnny Rodriguez was shortchanged by latter-day compilers. For instance, there were only a few paltry compilations in print as of May 2006 when Universal finally released a Rodriguez entry in its wide-ranging 20th Century Masters series. Rodriguez surely had enough hits in his day to warrant a more definitive collection than this budget-line entry, preferably one filled to the brim with 80 minutes of music. Still, the 11-track 20th Century Masters release is welcome, even if it just skims the surface of Rodriguez's tour of duty with Mercury Nashville during the '70s. (He jumped ship for Epic in 1979.) These 11 songs were all Top Five hits, over half of them chart-toppers. The most notable inclusions are "You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me)," "Ridin' My Thumb to Mexico," "That's the Way Love Goes," the Billy Joe Shaver-penned "I Couldn't Be Me Without You," and a cover of "Desperado." Again, Rodriguez deserves a more definitive collection than this, given his bounty of hits during the mid- to late '70s. But 20th Century Masters is an adequate distillation of his biggest hits, and at a budget-line price, it serves its purpose well as a great sampler of his prime.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier