Collin Raye – “Selected Hits” (Starpointe Records)
While the readers of this blog may not know it, I have always been a big fan of Collin Raye. Hey may not be the biggest of ‘names’ in country music but he’s my favorite. Much in the way a fan likes a local baseball star (for example let’s say Raul Ibanez of the Seattle Mariners), I’ve championed my mid-level hero. In the boom of the 1990’s ‘Garth era’ Collin garnered multiplatinum success while releasing a string of passionate ballads and rollicking tracks. Around the turn of the century country radio somehow stopped playing what Collin had to offer (despite favoring his style of country/rock/pop) and Collin split from Sony Nashville. Collin has since released an underwhelming live album and a nice indepentendent release through Aspirion Records. While recording a second album for Aspirion, they decided to stop releasing new artists directly. The label decided to focus, I guess, on being a distributor instead. So with Collin left with no label to call home he did what seemingly every successful artist has done lately; He created his own label with his management team. Starpointe records has formed and Collin released this 6 track EP on June 26.
Leading off “Selected Hits” is “A Soldier’s Prayer.” A passionate ballad about a man wishing for nothing more than to be home with his family and asks God to take care of him so that the wish will become a reality. It’s the kind of song that suits Collin like a glove. While it won’t probably be a hit on country radio I can see it doing quite well at Chrsitian radio outlets. All royalties Collin recieves for the song will be donated to a charity as well (see below for more information). “Quitters” is the other new song on the record and it it is vintage Collin Raye. behind a shimmering melody Collin sings about a boy who won’t give up in his desire to be able to do the things that most of us take for granted, like walking. It’s a powerful song that reminded me of a good childhood friend who was stuck in a wheelchair. He often was seen as a ‘helpless kid’ with no chance to ‘live a life’ but he did have dreams that are played out in the song. I hope that country radio will play this song and welcome Collin Raye back into the fold. He may often come off as a ‘male’ Martina with his penchent for recording ‘message songs’ but Collin still fills a spot that’s missing at country radio.
As for the four other tracks on the record, they’re four of Collin’s most well known hits. Recorded in Salt Lake City, Utah with the Salt Lake City philharmonic, the songs also serve as a great showcase for what you can expect at a Collin Raye concert (which his last live record didn’t do too well). “That’s My Story (And I’m Stickin’ To It)” starts the events off and the Lee Roy Parnell-penned track was great 13 years ago and it still as good as it was then. As Collin says on the ‘behind the songs interview at the end of the EP, this song was meant to be played live. “Little Rock” is the song that hooked me on country music and when placed with the full orchestra the song is just brilliant. That orchestra adds an atmospheric aura to the song that just, well, makes it.
“I Think About You” Is from Collin’s 1995 release of the same name. It’s an mid-tempo track that is all about how a father views the world. Simply the father sees every female, young and old as his daughter or potentially his adult daughter. Collin’s own daughter appeared in the video and, along with the unique (for the time) story that followed Collin as he wandered around a city, it was enough to give Collin one of his few awards from the Academy of Country Music. The presence of the Orchestra is subtle but they really shine through on Collin’s first number one song (and his signature song), “Love, Me.” Released 16 years ago, the song sounds as great now as it did then. Even when I discovered the song it sounded markedly different than his first album “All I Can Be.” Much like the greatest of country songs, “Love, Me” is a song that, well, tells a short story. It is a very visual story and, like “Little Rock,” the presence of the orchestra helps create a good mood for the song.
While just six songs long, “Selected Hits” is a must buy in my (fanboy) mind. It gives fans a good indication of what a great performer Collin Raye is while also showing off a couple of new tunes. When you add in the affordable price, I think it’s worth every penny. Especially when it helps the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwariorproject.org).