CD I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection * (CD 7021146),
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I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection *
1. Mama He's Crazy
2. Why Not Me
3. Girls Night Out
4. Love Is Alive
5. Have Mercy
6. Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)
7. Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain
8. I Know Where I'm Going
9. Turn It Loose
10. Young Love
11. Love Can Build a Bridge
12. Flies on the Butter (You Can't Go Home Again)
13. I Will Stand by You
14. Back Home
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 79234
Recording information: Dark Horse Recording; Ocean Way Nashville.
Photographers: Kristin Barlowe; Jeff Johnson ; Bryn Donaldson.
While it's true that Curb Records just keeps churning out the same Judds material over and over again, as single-disc compilations go, I Will Stand by You, with its 14 tracks, offers something different in two respects. The first is sound; the remastering here is easily the best of any compilation released under the Judds' name; the second is that even though the expected hits are all here, it does include the first new material by the duo in over a decade in the title track and "Back Home," which were cut for their reunion tour. The title track, co-written written by Steven Lee Olsen, Robert Ellis Orrall, and Angelo Petraglia, is the Judds at their most alien from themselves. Drenched in contemporary country production by Don Potter, the tracks' lyrics are a post-Gretchen Wilson anthem of seeming independence and strength, surrounded by a skittering blend of acoustic guitars, dobro, mandolin, a banjo, and thundering kick drums, that are all but replaced by blazing '70s arena rock electric guitars and pulsing keyboards as the track goes on; it nearly overwhelms the natural harmonic vocals of Naomi and Wynonna. "Back Home" (co-written by Darrell Scott and Bruce Robison) fares better. Though it too was recorded with Potter at the helm and bears traces of his excesses, it's a much more organic affair that offers the Judds' signature, symbiotic vocal interplay in the front of the track. The addition of the high lonesome harmony vocals by Alison Krauss is a nice touch to boot. Another plus is the inclusion of "Flies on the Butter (You Can't Go Home Again)," from Wynonna's album What the World Needs Now with Naomi on harmony vocals. Those who've already purchased other Judds compilations, or the mammoth, three-disc Collector's Edition Tin, may be wary of making an album-priced purchase for two new songs, and they're right to be wary. That said, Curb is betting that the promise of new material is enough to make the faithful step up to the counter one more time. ~ Thom Jurek
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