Eddie Money was never the flashiest rocker around. He looked like what he was, a regular guy who quit the N.Y.C. Police Academy to try to be a rock star. Take a look at the photos in the booklet of this career retrospective; when Money tried to look sexy, he simply ended up looking dorky. He didn't have the greatest voice either, sort of a regular Joe growl without much range. What he did have, however, were great songs and a tough, no-nonsense sound that made him an album rock radio fixture for much of the late '70s and early '80s. He also did the almost unthinkable for rock & roll and made a comeback. After a few weak albums in the mid-'80s that had people writing him off completely, he returned and hit the charts and airwaves even harder. This 15-track collection, The Essential Eddie Money, almost lives up to its title. It delivers one knockout blow after another, one AOR radio staple after another, until you are left shaking your head in wonderment. Beginning with the one-two punch of "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Baby Hold On," continuing with the killer album rock radio hits of "Trinidad," the amazing "Shakin'," and the ultra-poppy "I Think I'm in Love," Money's best five songs of the late '70s/early '80s stand up admirably next to any other artist of the era and still sound vital and alive in today's rock climate. The songs that weren't hits, like the strutting "No Control" and the country-rock-styled "Gimme Some Water," are nowhere close to being filler and are quite enjoyable too. His comeback songs from 1986, "Take Me Home Tonight" and "I Wanna Go Back," add layers of studio gloss to Money's clean and unadorned sound and lean more toward the pop side of pop/rock, but don't suffer for the change in approach. And no one can argue that the moment when Ronnie Spector breaks in with part of "Be My Baby" on "Take Me Home Tonight" isn't one of the coolest, most heartwarming moments in recorded rock history. His last hit, "Walk on Water" from 1988, is a big synth-dominated rock ballad that had Money going out in style. The last three songs are best skipped over as they are extremely weak and, in the case of "There Will Never Be Another You" (featuring the always questionable Boney James on sax), downright cheesy. If you can ignore those last three songs, this is a perfect collection of one of the great unsung rockers of any era.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra