Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Rascal Flatts

  • Greatest Hits Volume 1 [Lyric Street, 2008] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Greatest Hits Volume 1 [Lyric Street, 2008]
Hitmakers since 2000, they're probably the biggest country band there is. So I let them hit me with their best shots--I got nothing against hooks, I like hooks. Not only that, I'm down with the right schmaltz, like the profoundly shameless "Skin (Sarabeth)," in which two cancer kids bald from chemo go to the prom together--a milestone, I'm not being ironic, if you're wincing you're probably a bad person. But that one tells a story, and stories aren't how they roll. Their specialty is advice and reflection hired out to professional homilizers--"My Wish," "Stand," "Bless the Broken Road." These pep talks are anchored geographically by a track Jay DeMarcus and Gary LeVox, the two big-city cousins from Ohio, hand off to genuine small-town boy Joe Don Rooney, who longs for the good old certainties of a little place called, what a startling coincidence, Mayberry, no R.F.D. required--in a song that doesn't mention television once. As for hooks, well, check the Tom Cochrane cover. Arena rock didn't die, it just moved to Music City. You knew that. But Rascal Flatts knew it first. C+