Since the British reissue label Prism Leisure tends to specialize in compiling albums of unlicensed tracks that have gone out of copyright in Europe or stray recordings of other sorts, it is worth noting that this Jimmy Buffett collection consists of "Original sound recordings courtesy of MCA Records Inc.," as the back cover states. These are the legitimate studio tracks of Jimmy Buffett songs, and thus this disc, covering the years 1973-1985, is like the standard best-of Songs You Know by Heart: Jimmy Buffett's Greatest Hit(s), except that it boasts five more tracks. The title All the Great Hits is something of a misnomer, of course, not only because Buffett hasn't had any hits in the U.K., but also because, even in the U.S., he is arguably a one-hit wonder, that hit of course being "Margaritaville," which naturally leads things off. From there, the album jumps around the era, including early favorites like "Come Monday" and focusing on Buffett's hottest period as a record-seller from the mid-‘70s to the early ‘80s, with one track, "Last Mango in Paris," taking things up to the mid-‘80s. Not surprisingly, nothing has been done to improve the sound, so that these seem to be straight CD transfers without much sparkle. Roger Dopson's liner notes do a reasonable job of informing the British fan about Buffett's career, which may have had heavy reference to the sea but never actually crossed the Atlantic; Dopson refers to England as "a market he's [Buffett] never really bothered to woo." True enough, but since Buffett's happy-go-lucky beach-bum persona is a fantasy anyway, there's no reason why music fans in the U.K. wouldn't be as charmed by it as Americans who've never gone near the Gulf Coast. And this is a budget-priced way to sample the highlights of his record catalog.
All the Great Hits Review
by William Ruhlmann