Garth Brooks

Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences

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Easing back into active status, Garth Brooks commemorates the end of his Las Vegas tenure with Blame It All on My Roots, a six-disc box sold exclusively at Wal-Mart stores that captures his Vegas stage show circa 2013, but also rounds up the past while pointing toward the future. Most of this box concentrates on the past. Two of the discs replicate his Ultimate Hits collection from his 2007, but the rest are newly recorded versions of songs that he, and we, know and love. Brooks separates these tunes into four categories: Blue-Eyed Soul, which are '50s and '60s R&B standards; Classic Rock, which are album rock hits from the '70s; Country Classics, which are staples from the '50s through the early '90s; and Melting Pot, a bunch of songs that don't quite fit in any of those categories but are largely soft rock standards of the '70s, spiked with a few singer/songwriter favorites from the era, including more selections from the Band than you might expect. Brooks has good taste: he not only recognizes standards from Dylan and Fogerty, but he knows just how good the Pure Prairie League's "Amie" is, and helps elevate the Nitty Gritty Band's "Fishin' in the Dark" toward the standard level it deserves. Brooks never quite seems comfortable with the earlier, grittier work -- Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Buck Owens all wither in his hands -- but anything dating from 1970 on feels right in his warm, honeyed voice. Brooks is the kind of vocalist who never pushes his signature into a song he already knows: he lets the song stand on its own merits, comfortable that the audience will see what he sees in the tune, because they're both attracted to the melody and feel. He does this often enough on this hefty box set to make it worthwhile listening, particularly at its bargain price.

Track Listing - Disc 7

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Track Listing - Disc 8

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