Musical magnate Tim McGraw is one of the biggest names in American Country music right now. His 20-year career has seen the release of 13 studio albums, 10 of which have impressively reached number one, and an astonishing, and somewhat unfathomable, 10 compilation albums by his former label Curb Records. Additionally, the southern renaissance man has forged for himself a successful acting career, receiving critical acclaim for appearances in films like Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side, as well as launching numerous philanthropic undertakings. It’s no surprise then that his latest greatest hits compilation would be a colossal undertaking, taking a whopping 35 hits from albums that have produced over 50 singles, half of which have reached number 1 on the country charts. Aptly titled 35 Biggest Hits, the album is his largest and most comprehensive compilation endeavour to date, usurping the previous 24-track record of 2010’s Number One Hits.
The double-disc set is not only substantial but also meticulously structured, progressing in chronological order through McGraw’s “biggest hits”. Opening with McGraw’s first ever top 10 single, and also his most controversial, is 1994’s Indian Outlaw. Flooded with Native American cultural and musical clichés, from tepees and tom-toms, to medicine men and peace pipes, Larry Flick of Billboard once claimed that the track could “set relations back 200 years”. The catchy, but incredibly insensitive track eventually peaked at number 8 on the Billboard charts, and its surrounding storm propelled the young country singer into the spotlight.
Between its opening and conclusion, closing with one of McGraw’s most recent hits Better Than I Used To Be, the anthology charts McGraw’s most well-known, well-liked and most successful tracks. It presents the tender Not A Moment Too Soon, lifted from McGraw’s second, and breakout, album, before launching into the lovesick I Like It, I Love It, a foot-stomping, guitar-driven romp about infatuated puppy love. The collection traverses the history of McGraw’s contemporary country classics, made up of heartfelt ballads and rollicking anthems about love, loss, home and family. Other highlights for existing fans include 2004’s top country song Live Like You Were Dying, a moving look at optimistic living and life’s potential. Also included as the album’s 36th bonus track is the never before released Just When I Needed You The Most, a refreshingly live cover of the Randy VanWarmer classic.
For fans of the country music titan, 35 Biggest Hits is a heavy-duty, comprehensive exploration of the peaks of McGraw’s musical career. While McGraw has not approved of every compilation album released under his name, he could be pleased with this armoury of memorable songs. Newer fans who could find this introduction to McGraw’s pinnacle tracks slightly too detailed, might make a better start with some of the slimmer efforts out there.