If you're looking for a startling degree of variety in an artist's body of work, Junior Brown is probably not your man. Most of his records are squarely in the same groove -- straightforward old-school honky tonk stuff made notable by Brown's blazing hot guitar work (performed on his "guit-steel," a self-designed double-neck instrument that fuses a lap steel with a Telecaster) and his sly but down-home sense of humor, and while Junior's craggy voice doesn't boast much range, he has a great sense of just where to drop the notes within his deep-in-a-well tone. Given the consistency of Brown's music (and the fact that Brown hasn't enjoyed much in the way of chart success), you could pluck nearly any 12 tunes from his five albums for Curb and end up with a solid disc that represents his career well enough, and while Brown's Greatest Hits has been put together with a bit more care than that, there isn't much unexpected on it. There are no rarities or unreleased cuts, and pretty much anything that got any play on CMT or TNN (which were more receptive to the man's music than country radio has been) is on board. (Since Brown is no longer recording for Curb, chances are he didn't have much say about this set, which may have something to do with its less than imaginative track selection and packaging.) But if you're looking for a decent introduction to Brown's music, Greatest Hits isn't a bad way to go; you get some good laughs ("My Wife Thinks You're Dead" and "Joe the Singing Janitor"), a couple of high-powered guitar showcases ("Sugarfoot Rag" and "Freeborn Man"), and a handful of great roadhouse tunes, which all in all sum up what Junior Brown is all about pretty well. Guit With It and Semi-Crazy are Brown's best albums to date, but as an overview of his work for Curb, Greatest Hits will do nicely, though further exploration is strongly advised.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
feat: Red Simpson