The Very Best of David Wilcox is drawn from only the second, third, and fourth albums of a singer/songwriter who had recorded eight albums by the time of its release, which should give a good idea of its completeness. Wilcox signed to A&M Records in 1989 after issuing his debut album, Nightshift Watchman, himself, and he made three albums for the label before being cut loose in 1994 after failing to sell records in sufficiently large numbers to justify a big record contract. This 20-track compilation of that five-year period in his career includes seven cuts from his six-figure-selling second album and A&M debut, How Did You Find Me Here, six from its follow-up, Home Again, and appropriately, only four from the troubled third collection, Big Horizon (plus, ironically, one of the recordings from the first version of that album, which A&M rejected at the time). The choices are good, and they emphasize the consistency of Wilcox's work. Two bonuses spice things up: "Johnny's Camaro" (later featured on the 1996 live set East Asheville Hardware) and "Daddy's Money" (first heard on Nightshift Watchman) are presented in live versions drawn from A&M promotional discs. Both are humorous songs that reveal Wilcox's wit and satiric bite, talents not much on display in the more serious and sometimes oh-so-sensitive songs on his studio recordings. There are plenty of equally impressive tunes on later albums released on Koch and Vanguard, but the novice should get a good idea of Wilcox's style on this album, even if it doesn't actually span his career.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann