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Pop - Released April 3, 2020 | Dockland Music

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Comedy/Other - Released October 25, 2019 | Intercept Music

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Country - Released September 21, 2018 | CMCapNash (N91)

Released in 2018, Best of Kenny Rogers: Through the Years focuses squarely on Rogers' golden era of the late 1970s and early '80s, letting 20 hits pile up in chronological order. The set begins with "Lucille," his Top Ten breakthrough from 1977, and draws to a conclusion with the 1987 Ronnie Milsap duet "Make No Mistake, She's Mine," adding the 2006 single "I Can't Unlove You" as a coda. In between, there are a bunch of big hits -- "Daytime Friends," "Love or Something Like It," "The Gambler," "Coward of the County," "You Decorated My Life," "Lady," "Love Will Turn You Around," plus duets with Kim Carnes, Dottie West, and Sheena Easton -- but not all of them. Notably, there is nothing from the First Edition and "Islands in the Stream," his smash duet with Dolly Parton, is nowhere to be found. Their absence makes Through the Years somewhat less than definitive, yet it's still a fine roundup of his prime hitmaking period. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released August 7, 2015 | Warner Records

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Country - Released August 7, 2015 | Warner Records

Country music icon Kenny Rogers offers up his first Christmas collection since 1998's Christmas from the Heart. His sixth holiday-themed album overall, Once Again It's Christmas features a number of guest performers including Alison Krauss, Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles, vocal group Home Free, pianist Jim Brickman, and country-pop duo Winfield's Locket. The festive collection marks Rogers' return to recording holiday music, a genre he's been quite close to over the years both sentimentally and commercially. The album's autumn 2015 release preceded his annual Christmas & Hits Tour, which entered its 35th year in November. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Country - Released May 2, 2014 | Pony Music

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Country - Released February 4, 2014 | Suite 102

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Country - Released October 8, 2013 | Warner Records

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A big-budget Kenny Rogers album is a rare thing in the new millennium. Live albums, Christian records, Cracker Barrel exclusives, and seasonal specials piled up with regularity, but only 2006's Water & Bridges -- a reflective country album released on Capitol Nashville -- qualified as an album with real chart aspirations and 2013's You Can’t Make Old Friends acts as its unofficial sequel, a heavily produced, heavily promoted record designed not to woo back country fans but his crossover audience. To that end, the centerpiece arrives first thing: a sticky, sentimental duet with Dolly Parton on "You Can't Make Old Friends," a song that hazily suggests fond memories of when they sang together on their 30-year-old hit "Islands in the Stream." This album isn't as powerfully melodic as the Bee Gees-written 1983 masterpiece Eyes That See in the Dark but it's surely in the same adult contemporary vein, emphasizing soft surfaces and sweet melodies. There are hints of roots music, arriving either in the incongruous Buckwheat Zydeco cameo on "Don't Leave Me in the Night Time" or the sung Spanish chorus on "Dreams of the San Joaquin," plus there's an undercurrent of red-state conservatism to some songs, culminating in the ersatz blues of "'Merica." These add layers to You Can't Make Old Friends but Kenny feels more comfortable when he's cruising down the middle of the road, singing songs that are as appealing for their feel as their form. Maybe the individual songs aren't so memorable but the overall experience is one smooth ride. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released October 8, 2013 | Warner Records

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

If Eyes That See in the Dark represented a high watermark for Kenny Rogers, getting everything about a pop crossover right, its 1984 sequel, What About Me?, pretty much gets everything wrong. First of all, losing the writing talents of the Brothers Gibb is a major blow, since they not only gave Kenny indelible singles with "Islands in the Stream" and "Buried Treasure," they gave him a strong, consistent set of songs. This, released just a year later, is a return to singles 'n' filler, which is not unheard of in either country-pop or in Rogers' catalog, and sometimes it can even make for an enjoyable listen, provided that the singles are strong enough and that the overall sound of the record is appealing. Neither is the case here. The singles are not memorable -- the closest is the title track, featuring not just Kim Carnes but James Ingram in a song that doesn't quite make sense as a duet, let alone a trio -- and the production, which abandons any pretense at country, is too calculatingly adult contemporary; instead of having a nice, soothing, synth-heavy feel like Eyes That See in the Dark, this sounds cold and clean, typifying the worst in mid-'80s adult contemporary. And make no mistake, this is not a country album at all -- it may have charted on the country charts, but that was due to career momentum, because this is an adult contemporary album, and a bad one at that. It's a depressing comedown after the splendid Eyes That See in the Dark. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

Kenny Rogers' They Don't Make Them Like They Used To album's title track does what one critic said of Neil Young's Time Fades Away: remove the word "time" and the album reviews itself -- "Neil Young Fades Away." The Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager song and production feels forced -- the only track sounding like classic Kenny and kicking in as it fades. With five producers total it may have been a case of too many cooks, the music here a far cry from the string of hits put together by Larry Butler on Liberty Records for the former lead singer of the First Edition. No, they don't make 'em like they used to, but that doesn't mean this is a bad record; in fact, it's a very good album from a country-pop singer trying his hand at the slick adult contemporary associated with Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Either of those artists could have sang Dave Loggins' "Anything at All," and it may have hit, same with "You're My Love," which features El Debarge on backing vocals. For Rogers it is a wonderful experiment that sounds good but may have been too much of a paramorphism -- there's just not the balance that the Bee Gees struck with Kenny on Eyes That See in the Dark. Not including songwriters, almost four dozen individuals lent their talents to this underrated and pretty much forgotten 1986 album, Jay Graydon picking up where his colleague David Foster and George Martin left off on other RCA releases. The label didn't seem to be the company to keep this artist at the forefront, despite its fine work with his friend Dolly Parton. You'll find Rogers' co-hort Kin Vassy singing backing vocals on "Life Is Good, Love Is Better," Mike Boddicker on the title track, and Steve Lukather on the tune he co-wrote with Randy Goodrum, "If I Could Hold On to Love," but somehow quasi-disco wasn't going to work for an adult contemporary/country artist. Despite Rogers' friend Kim Carnes' success with "Bette Davis Eyes" at the beginning of the decade, Jay Graydon's guitar work with Alice Cooper and proficiency on Earth, Wind & Fire albums are where the producer leans towards here rather than drawing from his skills with artists like Parton. Make no mistake, this is Graydon's baby and it is admirable, from the stunning portrait of the star surrounded by pastels on the cover to the superbly slick presentation. Rogers is a total professional and pulls it off somewhat, but he does feel out of place. A reunion of the First Edition or the New Christy Minstrels may have been more interesting for the mid-'80s. Those voices would be certainly able enough to bring the title track home, the song "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To" the biggest disappointment here as it has so much to offer. It feels like Bacharach and Sager were going through the motions, and that's the pity, as the success of that soundtrack tune might've given the rest of this adult contemporary work a better chance. © Joe Viglione /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

3 stars out of 5 - "Some 48 years on from his first record, Rogers has settled down to do what he does best - sing a story or two..." © TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

By 1985, when The Heart of the Matter was released, Kenny Rogers was making absolutely no pretense about being a country artist, and felt free to indulge his desire to make straight adult contemporary albums, confident that his audience would follow him. This would be the last time a mass audience would turn up for his album, sending it to the top of the country charts even if it never sounded country. Rogers doesn't hide the fact that he's made a pop album with The Heart of the Matter -- after all, he hired the Beatles' producer, George Martin, to helm the affair. Martin gives the album focus, something its haphazard predecessor, What About Me?, lacked, and a nice commercial sheen. It also helps that song for song, this is a much stronger effort than What About Me?; it lacks the skillful songwriting of Eyes That See in the Dark, his best album (in either the pop or country idiom), and the singles aren't nearly as good as those he had at the turn of the '80s, but they are sturdy and consistent, making this a very pleasant listen. But pleasant isn't necessarily memorable, and while the songs aren't bad, they aren't catchy enough to stick around long, and the production is so state of the art circa 1985 (in other words, not sounding like classic George Martin), it will really appeal only to a select group who enjoy recordings that sound dated. So, The Heart of the Matter is far from Kenny Rogers' worst adult contemporary record, nor is it his best -- it's in the middle ground and middle of the road, and it's likely that only dedicated fans will find this worth exploring. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Nashville

This 2005 Collectables release is actually a reissue of a 1993 release by Warner Bros. Before his full-on turn into the adult contemporary style in the latter half of the '90s, Kenny Rogers was still crafting country-pop tunes in earnest, hoping for another hit that would be in the same lineage as his successes of the '80s. Unfortunately, If Only My Heart Had a Voice doesn't come close to achieving that goal, but there are some moments on here that die-hard fans will enjoy. "If I Were You," his duet with Travis Tritt, is remarkable in its delivery and production and has aged well, along with the rest of the nine surprisingly consistent songs found within. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2008 | EMI Gold

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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Nashville

If there was ever a record that sounded like a swan song, Kenny Rogers' fine, vulnerable Water & Bridges is it. The cover is a bit startling; who thought he'd ever age? He always looked like he was somewhere in his middle to late fifties. But that look is traceable if you look deep enough, while Rogers seems to wear his age proudly, like Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. The disc sounds like a goodbye to all the illusions, regrettable mistakes, and foolhardiness brought by living into the wisdom brought by the golden years. Rogers' career has seen so many heights, it's dizzying to think about. And he's still hanging out on Capitol while many of his contemporaries are struggling on independent labels, if they're recording at all. Water & Bridges isn't a perfect record, but it's a sincere one, and there are many tracks here that no other singer could pull off. And to be truthful, as in his very best material, Rogers has this uncanny ability to make everything on this record sound like it came from his own pen. It's a melancholy record about passage, from one stage to the next, of life, of love, of youth, of ignorance, of spirit. The 11 tracks here are all slow, all reflective. It's that particular brand of slick, soft, modern country and pop that he does better than anyone. There is one true dud in the bunch called "The Last Ten Years (Superman)," which is merely a novelty song about all the famous ones who passed on in the last decade. But there are so many tracks here where one can hear the spirit of mortality railing against the dying of the light. There is the title cut, which opens the disc and charts generations of fathers hurting their sons both born and unborn, where the protagonist finds himself as guilty as anybody he's charged; "Someone Is Me," about taking on civic responsibility; the killer "Someone Somewhere Tonight," which finds magic in the mere presence of everyday life. Don Henley joins Rogers on "Calling Me." It's a white man's country-soul tune that sounds too much like Curtis Mayfield's classic "People Get Ready." (Litigants get ready, set, go!) The vocal performances are stellar. "I Can Feel You Drifting" is a fine pop song, and it's a true heartbreaker. In the now thinning grain of Rogers' awesome voice, all the emptiness and sorrow and confusion in the world comes to call. Water & Bridges is as good as anything out there in 2006 and a whole lot better than most of the dross Nash Vegas shovels out. Hopefully Rogers scores big one more time. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Madacy Special Products

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal Music Enterprises

There certainly has been no shortage of Kenny Rogers compilations over the years -- some might even say there's been a surplus -- all covering essentially the same territory, mixing up his solo hits from the late '70s and early '80s with cuts from the late '60s when he fronted the First Edition. Hip-O's 2004 collection 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection uses that same approach, but it's better than nearly all of the collections currently on the market since it contains nearly all the big hits -- "Lady," "She Believes in Me," "You Decorated My Life," "The Gambler," "Lucille," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Ruben James," "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)" -- on an affordable single disc. Yes, the 1991 track "Crazy in Love" may be an odd opener even if it was a number one adult contemporary hit, key duets like "Don't Fall in Love With a Dreamer" and "Islands in the Stream" aren't here, "Coward of the County" is missed, and some may complain about the reverse chronological order of the set, but compared to all CD-era Kenny compilations outside of the 1999 four-disc box set Through the Years, this shines in terms of song selection and listenability, and upon its release was the best available single-disc Kenny Rogers compilation. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Kenny Rogers in the magazine
  • Kenny Rogers' musical legacy
    Kenny Rogers' musical legacy The star of country music passed away on the 20th of March 2020, leaving behind an enormous discography that included not only country music, but that spanned pop, rock, jazz and easy listening as ...