BMG Special Products' budget-priced 2004 compilation The Best of Robert Earl Keen does not contain the best of Robert Earl Keen. What it does contain is, arguably, the best ten songs (five each) from Keen's two albums made for Arista Nashville Records, Picnic (1997) and Walking Distance (1998). Keen's brief major-label sojourn did not produce any hits, but it did produce some good songs, and here they include some well-produced country-rockers, such as a version of Dave Alvin's "Fourth of July," and a couple of examples of Keen's zany sense of humor, "Then Came Lo Mein" and "That Buckin' Song." Best of all is the touching "Feelin' Good Again," a closely observed slice-of-life song. Anyone wishing to purchase an album closer to featuring the best of Keen, however, is directed to Sugar Hill's 2003 compilation The Party Never Ends: Songs You Know from the Times You Can't Remember. There is no overlap between that album and this one, though, and this one can be purchased cheap, so it would make a good add-on.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann