Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Alan Jackson: Greatest Hits Volume II [Arista, 2003]
Too many country artists who start strong fall off artistically as they work their market niche. So Alan Jackson's improvement is a triumph--his writing only peaked after he was sure his niche would listen. "Little Man" is populism without ressentiment, "Drive (For Daddy Gene)" makes me wish my dad had risked his Chevy on me, and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" could end up one of the few 9/11 remembrances emotionally evenhanded enough for Americans of differing convictions to share. Then there's the forgettable bonus disc, which demonstrates by contrast why some hits deserve to be. [Recyclables]