Uncut - 4/04, p.1163 stars out of 5
- "[H]e popped out airy melodies by the handful, picked guitars sweetly and sang like a blue-collar James Taylor."
Personnel: Jim Croce (vocals, guitar); Maury Muehleisen (guitar).
Audio Remasterers: Dan Hersch; Bill Inglot.
Liner Note Author: David Wild.
Photographers: Paul Wilson; Tommy O'Neal; Glenn A. Baker.
Since the bulk of Jim Croce's discography consists of compilations that shuffle "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Operator," "Time in a Bottle," and "I Got a Name" in a seemingly endless series of permutations, it's easy to be suspicious of another collection, particularly one bearing the nondescript title Classic Hits. But Classic Hits is from Rhino Records, not a budget label like Disky, and they have put together the first serious Croce hits compilation since 1992's double-disc The 50th Anniversary Collection. That collection, while comprehensive, had limited appeal since only hardcore fans need 49 Croce songs in one compilation, so this is the first noteworthy single-disc compilation since the first Croce hits album, the 1974 LP Photographs & Memories. Every one of the 14 songs on that album is here, but the "Classic Hits" billing doesn't mean all of his charting singles are here -- posthumous minor hit "Chain Gang Medley" is absent. Even so, it's not missed much, and even if there is an album cut or two, such as "Speedball Tucker," that would have been welcome, the 20 songs here contain all of the core Croce canon, along with a good cross-section of album tracks, good liner notes from David Wild, and good sound. Out of all the countless Croce comps on the market, it's easily the best. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine