Since Varese's 2001 collection 20 Greatest Hits starts like so many other Don Gibson collections with "Sweet Dreams," "Oh, Lonesome Me," and "I Can't Stop Loving You," it's easy to assume that it's another collection of his RCA recordings. It's not. It's a collection of material he cut for Hickory Records in the first half of the '70s. He happened to re-record his big RCA hits for the label and, since those are the songs most identified with Gibson (and properly so), they are here, placed in the front to lure in listeners. These re-recordings aren't bad, but they aren't as good as the originals, and they taint a collection that's otherwise a good summary of his underappreciated Hickory recordings. While these don't match his RCA work -- which were, after all, recorded at his peak as a writer and performer -- they're good country-pop material of the early '70s, targeted at an older audience and sung nicely by Gibson. The big hits from his time at Hickory are here -- "Woman (Sensuous Woman)," "Touch the Morning," "One Day at a Time," "Bring Back Your Love to Me," the Dottie West duet "Rings of Gold" -- and they're good enough to make you wish the entire collection were devoted to Hickory sides that weren't remakes. Considering how hard these are to find on CD, it's easy to suck up the re-recordings and get this just for those latter-day singles -- after all, it's the only way to get them -- but it doesn't make that wish go away. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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