Released in the spring 2003, The Essentials is the third compilation of Travis Tritt's Warner material in 14 months and the fourth of any note. Since the two 2002 releases were thematically based, separated into one disc of love songs and one disc of rockers, this leaves 1995's Greatest Hits: From the Beginning as The Essentials' real competition, since they both cover the same ground -- namely, his recordings between 1989 and 1995/1996, with the newer comp extending just a year longer than its predecessor. Greatest Hits is three songs longer than The Essentials, and all but two of the 12 songs -- "More Than You'll Ever Know" and "Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man" -- on The Essentials are on Greatest Hits, and that record had a couple of songs that maybe should have made the cut, including "Put Some Drive in Your Country" and "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof." So, Greatest Hits winds up with a slight edge, but it is only a slight edge, since this is a budget-priced collection and it does, after all, have the basics -- "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," "More Than You'll Ever Know," "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)," "Country Club," among them -- for a good price. On that level, The Essentials easily satisfies.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Marty Stuart