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The Very Best of Billy Dean

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Album Review

Billy Dean enjoyed his commercial peak in the early '90s, scoring seven consecutive Top Ten hits in the country charts between 1991 and 1993. But he managed a considerable comeback in 2004 when he returned to the Top Ten for the first time in eight years with "Let Them Be Little." Capitol Records Nashville, for which Dean recorded from 1990 to 1998, took advantage of that return to form (or attempted to dampen it) by releasing its compilation The Very Best of Billy Dean on the same day that Curb Records issued his first new album in seven years, also titled Let Them Be Little. One might be inclined to ascribe a certain cynicism to this action, especially since Capitol previously issued no less than four Dean retrospectives: 1994's incomplete Greatest Hits; 2000's ballad set Love Songs; 2002's Certified Hits; and the 2003 budget disc The Best of Billy Dean. But to be fair, all of those albums, in tried-and-true Nashville tradition, are skimpy, each of them containing only ten tracks. The Very Best of Billy Dean, on the other hand, has 17 tracks and runs nearly an hour, an exhaustive retrospective by Music Row standards. Among those 17 tracks are all 14 of Dean's Top 40 country hits on Capitol, plus a couple of minor chart entries and a 1994 cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday." Even in his heyday, Dean never quite measured up to competitors like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and George Strait. But after that heyday passed, he managed to hang on in Nashville, making his revival in 2004 a gratifying reward for persistence. Those new fans just discovering him through "Let Them Be Little" would do well to pick up The Very Best of Billy Dean to find out what the first part of his career was like, and that's exactly what Capitol hopes they will do.


Born: April 2, 1962 in Quincy, FL

Genre: Country

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

Billy Dean received a basketball scholarship to attend East Central Junior College in Decatur, MS, where he majored in physical education, but instead of wearing a whistle around his neck, he opted for a guitar strap. Inspired by Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, and Dean Martin, he played the club circuit along the Gulf Coast in Florida and used national talent contests as a vehicle for his music. He made the finals of the Wrangler Country Star Search in 1982, then won as a Male Vocalist champ on Ed...
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The Very Best of Billy Dean, Billy Dean
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