Up to this point, there has been handful of hits packages released from Alan Jackson throughout the years. It seems that one or two essential Alan Jackson hits are always left off. Which one is the best bang for your buck? Is this the collection of all collections? I suppose it depends on which songs you are looking for.
While I can’t tell you that it is the definitive collection that you may be hunting for, Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story, comes pretty danged close! Released on November 6th, 2015, exclusively through Walmart, this three disc set is jam packed with fifty-nine tracks that cover Jackson’s career from “Blue Blooded Woman” up to 2009’s “Sissy’s Song” and his duet with Zac Brown Band, “As She’s Walking Away.” That’s right… the singles released to radio from 2010 to now were omitted for whatever reason.*
What’s New?: As most big Alan Jackson fans likely own most of this material previous, the main attraction here are the eight unreleased tracks that are spread out over the three discs. “Born Too Late” and “If Tears Could Talk” both sound like classic Jackson tracks and were each co-written by Alan and Randy Travis. There isn’t any info included as far as when these were recorded, but I imagine the writing took place in the early 90’s when the two had been writing songs for each other. Closing out disc one is a live cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road,” which is fantastic! This one is a little confusing, because a recording of this was included on the Live At Texas Stadium compilation with Jimmy Buffett and George Strait. Is it the same recording? Maybe not, but its close.
The bonus tracks on discs two have a bit more of a range. “Wings” sounds like a later Alan Jackson love song, maybe recorded in the mid-late 2000’s, if I had to guess. Next up, we have a Latin flavored track titled, “Seguro Que Hell Yeah.” Jackson did not write this song, and I’m struggling to find out any more info about it outside of the writers names. It was recorded at one time by Flaco Jimenez and Raul Malo of The Mavericks, but that’s as deep as it seems to go at this point! Wrapping up the second disc is a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The final disc includes only two bonus tracks, totaling the collection at an odd 59 songs. The great thing about songs in which Alan Jackson is the sole writer is that you can HEAR his work. “Love Is Hard” and “Ain’t Just A Southern Thing” could easily both have been a radio track from just about any album in Alan’s career. If these two weren’t marked as “Unreleased” tracks, one might even assume that they were album cuts from a previous record!
What’s Missing?: Everything included is fantastic. However, there is enough radio material that this could have easily been a four disc set encompassing all of Alan Jackson’s singles to date. Now, I understand not including “Jim And Jack And Hank” from Angels And Alcohol, but I’m counting at least fifteen tracks that should’ve been included: “Song For The Life,” “Everything I Love,” “www.memory,” “It’s Alright To Be A Redneck,” “The Talkin’ Song Repair Blues,” “U.S.A Today” and “I Still Like Bologna” are missing, but that is only through the period in which this collection includes.
From 2010 and out, the collection omitted “It’s Just That Way,” “Hard Hat And A Hammer,” “Ring Of Fire,” “Long Way To Go,” “So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore,” “You Go Your Way” and “A Million Ways To Die .” Also, very noticeably missing is the duet with George Strait, “Murder On Music Row.”**
I imagine a lot of the later stuff was left off due to poor chart performances, but let’s be honest; the mega fans of Alan Jackson that are buying this don’t care about chart performance. Give us everything in one nice set!
Packaging: The outer box for this Alan Jackson collection is awesome looking. A thick cardboard casing includes a 55 page booklet that I can’t wait to dive into. From quick glance, there are some incredible photos of Alan, handwritten lyrics and information on all of the included songs. The sticker on the cover of the packaging makes note of an included poster, but don’t get too excited. It folds out longways and features some of the items that were recently on display at the Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville, but its nothing that you’ll hang on your wall.
I do have a problem with the way the discs are stored. It was a real challenge to carefully remove each CD from its non-protective cardboard folder. Be very careful!
Final Thoughts: The presentation of Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story is very nice on the eyes. Everything feels pretty strong, minus the hard to navigate disc folders. Could there have been more music included? Sure. Then again, I guess we wouldn’t need another definitive collection down the line, would we? IF you are an Alan Jackson completist like I am? You’ll want this for the bonus tracks. If you already have the big hits and aren’t worried about eight songs that previously wound up on the cutting room floor? Then you probably don’t need to add this one to your shelf.
*Alan Jackson left Arista Nashville in 2011, which may have impacted the songs released later from being included.
**“Murder On Music Row” was originally released on George Strait’s Latest Greatest Straitest Hits on MCA Nashville.
Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story is currently exclusive to Walmart and Alan Jackson’s online store. Did you pick up a set? Let us know what you think about the collection in the comments below!