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Greatest Hits

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Oct
Greatest Hits
Sounds like … gripping power ballads, stirring love songs, and joyous pop abound in this two-decade-spanning career retrospectiveAt a Glance … this mostly complete collection recalls the significant impact Troccoli has had on Christian music despite leaving out glimpses of her mainstream crossovers and lacking detailed liner notes.

After inaugurating the Reunion Records label and consistently charting over the course of two decades, a Greatest Hits collection for Kathy Troccoli is certainly fitting, if not long overdue. Aside from Amy Grant and possibly Sandi Patty, Troccoli is perhaps the most notable female artist to rise out of contemporary Christian music circles. Her craft for singing and writing quintessential contemporary pop has kept her close fans interested with every release. Throughout that span, the impact and accolades she has racked up are tremendous, from scoring 17 number one Christian radio singles, to five top ten hits in the mainstream, to hosting "VH-1's Countdown" to stage time with the likes of Pope John Paul II, Jay Leno, Regis and Kathy Lee, Celine Dion, and Michael Bolton. Throughout that never ending schedule, this vocal diva still has found the time for women's ministry, including regular speaking and singing appearances on the Women of Faith, Heritage Keepers, and Time Out! conference tours.

Much of this record's charm is its ability to trace Troccoli through all her career stages, not only examining her progress, but giving longtime listeners the chance for sweet nostalgic remembrances. Inclusions of early '80s singles "Holy, Holy" and "Stubborn Love" are the disc's best flashback examples, but thankfully Troccoli has updated the arrangements for this collection making them sound less dated. The 1980s-styled balladry is replaced with a more fleshed out piano driven sound on "Holy, Holy" and a slight symphonic vibe on "Stubborn Love," finally putting the sound on the same plane as their lyrical timelessness. (Purists need not fear as both face lifts preserve the integrity and spirit of the originals).

Another notable chunk of material comes from Troccoli's early '90s collections (Pure Attraction and a self-titled disc), such as the meditative "Help Myself to You," the Taylor Dayne-esque "Everything Changes" (whom she previously supported in the studio), the soulful breeze throughout "Mission of Love," and the surrender filled finale "My Life Is in Your Hands." Lines like "Nothing is for keeps/All I know is that Your love will live eternally/So I will find my rest, I will find my peace/Knowing that you'll meet my every need" on "My Life Is in Your Hands" especially recalls Troccoli's consistent ability to touch the church with soul stirring spiritual truths.

As fond as memories of Troccoli's past will be for fans, her more recent catalogue is still packed with quality, despite the focus being more on string-soaked ballads than danceable pop shuffles. Cuts like "Psalm Twenty-Three" and "A Different Road" (both from 1998's Corner of Eden) show Troccoli's vocal balance between deep-throated soul and accentuated tenderness, while "Go Light Your World" and "I Will Choose Christ" reveal her range at towering, rarely matched peaks of glory. Even "I Call Him Love" (off the somewhat overlooked 1997 effort Love and Mercy) and "Love Has a Name" (from 2002's disc of the same name) showcase Troccoli's endearing choral gifts under a worshipful sunshade.

In spite of the well-rounded appearance based on the above descriptions, Greatest Hits isn't quite as complete as it could be. For starters, four of Troccoli's biggest mainstream hits ("If I'm Not in Love," "Tell Me Where It Hurts," "You've Got a Way," and The Beach Boys duet "I Can Hear Music") are all perplexingly and disappointedly excluded. It's preposterous that each of these top ten charters would be left out for any reason, though my guess would be Troccoli's record label thought the lovey-dovey imagery (especially on "Tell Me Where It Hurts") wouldn't be fit for Christian retail sales (even though such selections were sold in stores upon their initial release).

And don't expect to hear any brand new material surfacing on this project, as the re-workings of "Stubborn Love" and "Holy, Holy" are the only two hints of the previously unheard. If you already own all of Troccoli's discs, it's probably not worth your time and money to invest in this release, unless, of course, you must stock every product she has ever released in your collection. Additional disappointment comes in the packaging itself, which is simple, thrown together, and lacking any background information whatsoever, unfortunately going against the grain of most other career compilations on the market these days. Typed lyrics in plain white text occupy the three dull fold-out panels, void of any old photos, historical liner notes, and comments from Troccoli and/or industry peers. All in all, it's not enough to taint this otherwise plentiful run of spiritually themed singles by this highly influential and uplifting diva. It's just not as exhaustive of a compilation as it could have been.