Liner Note Author: Michael Amicone.
This is the third hits compilation released of Billy Ray Cyrus, and it is by far the best. 1997's 12-track The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover to Cover has been made obsolete by hits Cyrus scored after its release. The 2003 Cyrus entry in the discount-priced 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection, with ten tracks, is only a sampler. The Definitive Collection lives up to its title by including all 19 country hits Cyrus scored from 1992 to early 2000, starting with "Achy Breaky Heart" and concluding with "You Won't Be Lonely Now," licensed from Monument Records, the label to which Cyrus moved after his Mercury tenure. The set is brought up to a CD-filling 80-minute length by the inclusion of two album tracks: "Truth Is I Lied," co-written by Cyrus with Don Von Tress, who wrote "Achy Breaky Heart," and rockabilly great Carl Perkins; and a revival of the Jeannie C. Riley hit "Harper Valley PTA." Due to the massive crossover success of his debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart," which hit number four on the Hot 100 and pushed his first album, Some Gave All, to sales of nine million copies, Cyrus is viewed as a one-hit wonder by the pop market, where none of his subsequent efforts did nearly as well. "Achy Breaky Heart" is his biggest country hit, too, of course, but, as documented here, he continued to score on the country charts with a variety of material, including the veterans' anthem "Some Gave All." While some of his singles echoed the novelty appeal of "Achy Breaky Heart," others were sturdy country ballads, while "Time for Letting Go," for instance, was a song written by Jude Cole that easily could have been at least an adult contemporary hit if it had been marketed as such. Country fans don't need to be told that there's more to Billy Ray Cyrus than "Achy Breaky Heart," and this modestly priced collection demonstrates that fact. ~ William Ruhlmann