RCA/Legacy's 2006 release The Essential Jim Reeves is a repackaged reissue of BMG Heritage's 2003 compilation Anthology, containing a different title and cover art, but bearing the same 40 tracks and annotation. There has been no shortage of Jim Reeves compilations over the years, ranging from cheap budget-line collections to Bear Family's absurdly comprehensive 16-CD set, Welcome to My World. In between those two extremes were 1993's double-disc Welcome to My World: The Essential Jim Reeves and 1995's single-disc The Essential Jim Reeves, both of which covered the basics quite well, and 2000s double-disc German release The Singles, 1953 to 1960, an excellent distillation of his peak years. Despite the strengths of these releases, no set offered such a wide-ranging and complete overview as this superb collection, now titled The Essential Jim Reeves. Spanning 40 tracks over two discs, the set begins with his first big hit, "Mexican Joe" in 1953, and ends with "Angels Don't Lie," which charted in 1970, six years after his tragic death in 1964. Reeves had plenty of hits even after 1970 -- he appeared on the Billboard country charts regularly for 20 years after his death -- and he had so many hits during his lifetime that they can't all be condensed into one 40-track collection, but what makes The Essential Jim Reeves so good is its expert song selection. It picks both the biggest hits and greatest songs, making this both the best hits collection and summary of his career for those who want a thorough but not exhaustive overview of his work. Those other collections are excellent in different ways, but this is the one that should be in every country collection.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2