Kenny Rogers compilations tend to drift in and out of print, yet in a sense it doesn't matter much, because most featured most of the big hits. However, very few contained them all and, as of 2004, the only collection in print that contained all his big hits, from the First Edition through the mid-'80s, was 1999's four-disc box set Through the Years, which was too exhaustive for all but dedicated Rogers fans. So, there was a need for a new, relatively concise collection that featured all the hits; hence Capitol's 42 Ultimate Hits, a double-disc set that spans Kenny's entire career, from the First Edition to two new tracks, including a duet with Whitney Duncan.
Ultimate R&B: 72 of the biggest R&B hits and hard to find rarities across 4 CDs, all housed in a fold out cardboard digi-pack sleeve. This is the best R&B album to hit the shops lately. Including Sean Paul, Joe, R Kelly and many other legends, it also includes some of the lesser known artists. I don't usually buy this music but gave it a try and was not dissapointed with it. The whole album is fantastic to listen to. I think it would be a great buy for R&B lovers AND people who don't normally buy this kind of music.
Kenny Rankin sings like Chet Baker would have if Baker had had a voice. His tone is high (Rankin's speaking voice is actually fairly low) and he has a subtle, cool style. It is a bit of a surprise, but Rankin (whose previous output has been in pop music) is actually a fine jazz singer. He always sticks to the lyrics when performing veteran standards (there is no scatting), but changes many of the notes, even during the melody statements, and he is definitely improvising. Rankin's concept is kind of strange ("At Last" and "The Very Thought of You" are radically changed) but successful and he has a strong and likable voice. An all-star acoustic trio (consisting of pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Brian Bromberg, and drummer Roy McCurdy) backs the singer on most of the tracks, Tom Scott (on tenor and alto) and trombonist Bill Watrous add melodic bop solos to three songs apiece, "It Had to Be You" is taken as a romping duet with pianist Alan Broadbent, and the remarkable singer Sue Raney interacts with Rankin on "I've Got a Crush on You." This surprising CD is highly recommended.