Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1

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November 22, 2008

Rascal Flatts
Greatest Hits Volume 1

If an act’s musical identity can be distilled into five seconds, it may be the opening of “Praying For Daylight”, the debut single of Rascal Flatts and first cut on their chronologically arranged collection, Greatest Hits Volume 1.  Before the music even comes in, we hear their distinctive harmonies.   Gary LeVox’s nasally lead vocals were as prominent then as they are now, and are the common thread weaved throughout their first hits package.  As time goes on, his vocals get more intense as they struggle to be heard over the increasingly bombastic production, but if you’re hooked on that sound from the get-go, you’ll probably love this package.

If you’re immune to his charms, the album’s much more of a mixed bag.   As a hits collection, Greatest Hits Volume 1 manages to be definitive without being particularly distinctive, which is a reflection of the mediocrity that has become Rascal Flatts’ calling card.   Much like Brooks & Dunn, the duo that has dominated the Vocal Duo category the same way Flatts has dominated Vocal Group, these guys have a lot of hits to their credit, but few of them are memorable.

“I Melt”, “My Wish”, “Stand”, “Mayberry.”  All of them are here, but it’s hard to remember when they were around in the first place.   On tracks like “Fast Cars and Freedom” and “Feels Like Today”, it’s understandable to think that you’re listening to a forgotten 80′s pop radio staple, until LeVox reaches for a high note and misses, and you’re reminded that C-list 80′s pop stars are among modern country’s most baffling muses.

Even when they get a song with a great hook, like “These Days”, it is weighed down by a throwaway line about the woman he still loves marrying a rodeo cowboy.     “Skin (Sarabeth)” attempts to garner sympathy for a sick young girl, but the song is so contrived and manipulative that it’s easy to assume that the girl’s name was chosen because it rhymed so neatly with “scared to death.”

Among the maudlin weepers and not-quite-rockers are a trio of standout tracks that are worthy of discussion. Although it was first recorded by Mark Wills, “What Hurts the Most” is tailor-made for Rascal Flatts with a killer hook that lingers long after the song ends.   “Bless the Broken Road” had been cut a few times before, but finally earned its rightful place as a country smash and wedding hall staple.

Best of all is “I’m Movin’ On,” the closing track from their debut album that launched them into stardom.  Simple, eloquent and tastefully delivered, it is far and away their finest moment on record.  Coming so early in their career, it’s also an interesting glimpse at what their career could have been.

It’s hard to find hope for what’s still to come, as this collection doesn’t include the tepid singles from their most recent studio album Still Feels Good, which would only reinforce the disposable nature of their work.   Instead, we’re treated to a bonus disc with three Christmas songs: “White Christmas”, “Jingle Bell Rock” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”  They sound exactly like what you’d imagine they’d sound like.

Click to hear Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.

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  1. Cowboy BleauNo Gravatar says:

    Although your personal views are disagreeable on my part Kevin, I actually have to say for the first time I agree that the Flatts boys have a flop with this one. It’s nothing but a collection of hits that any average American could probably just burn together from the projects that almost everyone who would enjoy this album already owns.

  2. Soul Miner's DaughterNo Gravatar says:

    The only prize in cds like this, or anything Rascal Flatts for that matter, is that we get reviews like this!
    Love it!
    Kudos to Kevin!

  3. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    The true value of this album is to non-fans such as myself. Since “even a blind pig finds an acorn occasionally”, even Rascal Flatts has had a couple of worthwhile songs and this is the way to pick them up cheaply (if you buy during the initial release week)

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I have to know: What couple of songs does Paul W. Dennis find worthwhile from Rascal Flatts?:)

  5. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I will admit that I do own three RF songs.

  6. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    Leeann, He probably has/likes “Bless The Broken Road” and “I’m Movin’ On” or “Mayberry”

  7. Blake BoldtNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never been a fan of the tone in LeVox’s voice, but “I’m Moving On” and “Bless the Broken Road” are terrific songs regardless of the singer, and he performs them well with just the right mix of emotion and restraint.

  8. KNo Gravatar says:

    Although I was slightly dissapointed in this album, I am disgusted at this scathing review. It’s almost as if tbe reviewer took every RF song he’s ever hated and tore it down right here.
    The guys have real gems on this album that I’m afraid you overlooked:
    These Days: Fantastic love song, and it is perfect for Gary’s voice
    I Melt: Amazing love song that is sung with very powerful conviction.
    Mayberry: Great song with excellent harmonies
    Prayin For Daylight: Very catchy, fun song

    Everything else is sort of boring, but hey RF made all the songs their own.

    And the Christmas tracks are excellent. Anyone who says these guys can’t sing after listening to their Accapella version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” doesn’t know true talent.

  9. KNo Gravatar says:

    And, Kevin, I’d love to know why you gave Shedaisy’s Greatest Hits more stars than this one? Both albums contain hits, both contain artistry, what excatly did Shedaisy’s album do that was any “better” than this collection?

  10. Kevin J. CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    Simple, K. I don’t care how country the music is. I only care how well it’s made. Where we disagree is on the artistry. I think SHeDaisy’s work simply has more artistic merit than Rascal Flatts’ work, at least as presented on their hits collections.

  11. KNo Gravatar says:

    What “artistic merit” are you reffering to, Kevin? Better lyrics? Better Harmonies? Better production?

    Yes, RF has had some washup songs, I’ll admit, but not that many. What about “These Days, “I Melt, Maberry, Skin, Winner At A Losing Game, I’m Movin On, Prayin For Daylight…And, the fact that you say these guys are among “C-list pop stars are among modern country’s most baffling muses”

    I’d like to know what you find so “baffling” about thier sucess, Kevin? They play to millions of fans every year, sell millions of records, and are known widely outside the country genre. They write much of their own music, play their own insturments, and produce thier own records.

    Yes, Shedaisy writes the majority of thier music, but that’s about it. And, how did you not mention their version of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas? It’s completly flawless, yet you fail to mention it? It proves these guys CAN SING and still no mention…

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