Janie Fricke

It Ain't Easy: The Complete Hits

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It Ain't Easy: The Complete Hits is the first comprehensive Janie Fricke compilation in two decades but Real Gone's 2019 set easily trumps Anthology, the collection Renaissance released in 1999. For one, it's nearly twice its size, spanning 41 tracks over the course of two CDs. This is plenty of space to allow for all of Fricke's big hits, whether they were duets or billed to Janie Fricke or Janie Frickie, which was the credit she adopted starting with 1986's number one single "Always Have Always Will." All of Fricke's other number one country singles are here: the Charlie Rich duet "On My Knees," "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby," "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy," "He's a Heartache (Looking for a Place to Happen," "Tell Me a Lie," "Let's Stop Talkin' About It," "Your Heart's Not in It," and the Merle Haggard duet "A Place to Fall Apart." They're surrounded by Top 10s and Top 40s, all tracing the evolution of the skilled singer, who gradually drifted toward easy listening as her career progressed. Earlier in her career, her association with producer Billy Sherrill steered her a little closer toward classic country, but even her breakthrough hits in the early '80s veered toward smooth pop. Listening to these collected hits, sometimes it's hard not to wish there were a few more songs as lively as "If the Fall Don't Get You," which has a bit of a bouncy Carlene Carter vibe, but the individual moments are cannily crafted and showcase Fricke's easy, friendly touch. Much of this can be heard on slimmer hits collections but the heft of It Ain't Easy: The Complete Hits illustrates just how big a star Fricke was in the '80s, which means it's the definitive overview of her career.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
02:51
2
03:10
3
03:10
4
02:47
5
03:17
6
03:13
7
03:29
8
02:41
9
03:34
10
03:06
11
03:01
12
03:15
13
02:30
14
02:21
15
02:52
16
02:52
17
02:29
18
03:38
19
03:23
20
03:02
21
04:01

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
03:18
2
02:50
3
02:53
4
03:38
5
03:35
6
02:59
7
02:43
8
02:44
9
03:11
10
02:43
11
03:42
12
04:07
13
02:52
14
03:24
15
02:50
16
02:45
17
02:42
18
03:09
19
03:09
20
03:27
blue highlight denotes track pick