Recording information: 800 East Studios, Atlanta, GA; Loud Recording Studios, Nashville, TN; Shrimpboat Sound, Key West, FL; Station West, Nashville, TN; The Sound Station, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Pamela Springsteen; Russ Harrington; Randee St. Nicholas.
Legacy's 2012 set The Essential Alan Jackson is a retitled reissue of 2010's 34 Number Ones, containing the same songs in the same sequence but bearing a different title and artwork. Upon its release, three of these cuts -- "Ring of Fire," "Look at Me," and the Zac Brown Band duet "As She's Walking Away" -- were new and several of the songs -- "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow," "Here in the Real World," "Tonight I Climbed the Wall," "(Who Says) You Can't Have It All," and "Who's Cheatin' Who" -- never topped the Billboard charts, so the title 34 Number Ones bent the truth a bit, but when placed under the Essential banner alongside all the number one hits from 1991 through 2008, there is no reason to quibble. Jackson certainly has more to offer than just number one singles -- his facility with slow-burning torch songs and gospel is absent here, as are several singles that never reached the upper echelon of the charts ("Pop a Top," "The Talkin' Song Repair Blues," "USA Today," "A Woman's Love," "www.memory," "It's Alright to Be a Redneck," "When Somebody Loves You") -- but by its very length The Essential Alan Jackson suggests the depth and breadth of his body of work, and it's a tremendously entertaining listen to boot. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine