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The Definitive Collection

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Album Review

The Kathy Mattea entry in Universal Music's discount-priced hits series The Definitive Collection is the most extensive compilation on the country singer yet released, and it contains almost all of her major hits from the six-year period, 1986-1991, when she was one of the top hitmakers in country music. In addition, Robyn Flans' longer-than-usual liner notes benefit from a good interview with Mattea. When her most popular songs are played one after another, the listener is reminded anew of the surprisingly high quality of songwriting Mattea was able to identify within the Nashville publishing houses and the diversity of musical settings in which she placed them, not to mention the clarity and conviction with which she sang. In some cases, of course, she didn't have to look far to find material: the heartbreaking ballad "Where've You Been," a Grammy Award winner for Best Country Song, was co-written by her husband, Jon Vezner, with Don Henry. The only thing that mars this album is the omission of the Top Ten hit "A Few Good Things Remain," which cannot be an oversight. It is included on Mattea's previous compilation, A Collection of Hits, which was still in print when The Definitive Collection was released, and it is the only one of that album's ten songs not to be repeated on the later set. This is typically cynical record company marketing practice, deliberately leaving one hit off a hits collection to force fans to buy another disc. It is especially irritating when the album in question is given a title like The Definitive Collection, and it flies in the face of the tone of Flans' liner notes, which begin with the sentence, "Integrity is the first word that comes to mind when surveying the musical catalog of Kathy Mattea." If only that were also true when surveying the track list of this album.

Customer Reviews

The Definitive Collection

Kathy is the real thing! None of the false flash of the Shanias and Faiths who need help in the recording studio. She stands up there beside Reba and Trisha as women who can simply sing and sing with true heart! This collection is outstanding and contains the classic "Standing Knee Deep". What a beauty!

455 Rocket!!

455 Rocket, is such a great song. This song makes you want to move, this is my favorite of Kathy's. It should have done better than it did. The song is just rockin'!!

Only great single missing is 'A Few Good Things Remain'

This is a fantastic collection esspecially for her fans! Some of the greatest songs of her career.


Born: June 21, 1959 in Cross Lane, WV

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Kathy Mattea was one of the most respected female country stars of her era, a commercially successful hitmaker who was able to bring elements of folk, bluegrass, gospel, and singer/songwriter intimacy to her music. Mattea was born in Cross Lane, WV, in 1959 and received classical voice training starting in junior high, but also took up the guitar when she discovered folk music. In 1976, while in college, she joined the bluegrass band Pennsboro and two years later dropped out of school to move to...
Full Bio