The Dixie Chicks: Playlist: The Very Best of the Dixie Chicks

RIYL: Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, The Eagles

A cynic might say that this best-of collection by the Dixie Chicks was thrown together so that the group (which consists of sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines) would have something to sell fans during their tour with the Eagles this summer. However, the press release assures us that these songs were handpicked by the Chicks, implying that they were deeply involved with the collection.

I suppose. I get the feeling that by “handpicked,” the record label means that the ladies used their hands to text “yes” when the list of songs popped up in their email boxes from their record company reps. Despite the green packaging (liner notes and song credits only appear in PDF form as extras on the CD), Playlist (which is actually a line of “best of” collections that Sony BMG releases for veteran artists) is more or less the same as one of those cheap cassette collections you find at every truck strop across our great nation.  Still, as this is the first major collection of hits by the Dixie Chicks, it’s worth looking at.

Playlist is arranged chronologically, pulling tracks from the Dixie Chicks’ four studio albums featuring Maines at the front of the band (there were two earlier incarnations of the band before her).  Two tracks from Wide Open Spaces, including the lovely “You Were Mine;” three songs from their excellent sophomore album, Fly, including  Patty Griffin’s painful “Let Him Fly;” three songs from the multi-platinum Home, including the superb, shuffling “Truth No. 2” (also penned by Griffin); and four from the 2007 Grammy-winning Album of the Year, Taking the Long Way, most notably “Not Ready to Make Nice,” their angry response to the backlash they received for comments made at the build-up of the Iraq invasion.

Each track is crisp, clean and slickly produced. Each production is so flawless, it’s difficult to distinguish which album any of these tracks come from. Whatever growth these ladies display comes through in their lyrics rather than fiery studio performances. Nonetheless, all of the songs are excellent, except maybe their rather bland cover of Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Landslide,” however, that just may be my personal preference for the sparse Buckingham/Nicks version.

At 12 songs, the only surprises here are the omissions of several of their top ten country hits like “I Can Love You Better,” the group’s first top ten hit from 1997, “Without You,” which was a number one hit, and “Travelin’ Soldier,” also a number one hit song, and perhaps one of their finest recordings.

Still, the casual Dixie Chicks fan uninterested in downloading individual tracks can get the entire MP3 album for just $5 at Amazon, leaving plenty of money left over to round out the collection of missing songs. Playlist definitely offers a taste of the impeccably played and sung music of the Dixie Chicks, a reminder of why they’re one of the best country acts around. Hopefully a new album is coming soon. If not, one would hope  a more genuine greatest hits collection, one that includes all of their hits, as well as some samples of their wildly popular live act. (2010 Sony/BMG)

Official Dixie Chicks webpage
Click to buy Playlist: The Very Best of the Dixie Chicks from Amazon


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