Categories :

Similar artists



Country - Released January 1, 2008 | Show Dog Nashville

For many mainstream listeners, Toby Keith first appeared on their radar in 2002 with "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," the blistering counterpoint to Alan Jackson's sorrowful "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" that turned Keith into a talk radio phenomenon and a genuine American star. Like many overnight success stories, Toby Keith's celebrity didn't happen overnight -- it was the beginning of his second act, as the 2008 double-disc compilation 35 Biggest Hits makes plain. 35 Biggest Hits divides neatly into a disc of '90s hits and a disc of new-millennium singles, stopping with 2006's White Trash with Money (2007's Big Dog Daddy apparently falling under another contract and thereby absent from this comp) but adding the new recording "She's a Hottie," an OK rocker that feels like the contractual obligation it likely is. This split makes sense chronologically but it also makes sense musically, as Keith's '90s hits were much softer than his 2000s singles. After establishing his modern-day outlaw stance with "Should've Been a Cowboy" and "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action" in 1993, Keith spent much of the '90s crooning ballads vaguely reminiscent of Ronnie Milsap's early-'80s hits (such as the lovely "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You"), but when he jumped from Mercury Nashville to DreamWorks in 1999, his sound got bigger and tougher, eventually leading to the Waylon-indebted swagger of "Beer for My Horses" and "Honky Tonk U." Most musicians do their most adventurous work earlier in their careers, but 35 Biggest Hits shows that Toby Keith is the opposite, getting bolder and riskier as the years go by. Such a statement suggests that his earlier records weren't much good but that's not the case at all; he had loose-limbed barroom rockers like "You Ain't Much Fun" early in his career and all of the ballads are very good, showcasing a sensitive side that has been overshadowed by the outsized persona he's been working since Pull My Chain. Listening to 35 Biggest Hits, it's easy to appreciate how much Keith has changed over the years and how he's as good now as he ever was, making this a rather revealing career overview and an excellent introduction to a singer who, no matter how bright his star shines, still tends to be a bit underrated. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released April 20, 1993 | Mercury Nashville


Country - Released November 4, 2003 | DreamWorks Nashville


Country - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Music Mexico


Country - Released January 1, 2002 | DreamWorks Nashville

Toby Keith was edging in on superstardom prior to the release of Unleashed -- he appeared on a national long-distance telephone commercial, after all -- but this was the record that made him a household name, thanks to the opening track "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" and the media-created controversy surrounding its release. The rabble-rousing, obstinate flip-side to Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" -- essentially, a 9-11 song for those who thought Jackson's heartbroken confusion was for pansies, but weren't redneck enough to embrace Charlie Daniels' "That Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag" or "The Last Fallen Hero" -- "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" is, as its subtitle suggests, filled with anger, telling the terrorists (whose "suckerpunch came flying in from somewhere in the back," a rhyme so tantalizingly close to "somewhere in Iraq," you will yourself to hear it every time it plays) that they'll "get a boot in their ass, it's the American way." Keith was scheduled to sing this on an ABC special on the fourth of July (not too coincidentally mentioned in the song), when apparently Peter Jennings objected to the tone of the song and asked the network to rescind the singer's invitation, which then lead to reams of print and countless TV appearances that effectively sold Unleashed before it hit the stores. As it turns out, "Courtesy" is a bit misleading of a lead single, as is the title, since most of this album is hardly tough macho posturing. Sure, there's some of it -- such as the absurdly anthemic "Beer for My Horses," a duet with Willie Nelson where the two of them hunt down modern day gangsters like cowboys, then drink to their accomplishments -- but most of this album is tuneful singer/songwriterism, particularly on the second side, where this album really takes off with a series of rolling, melodic, acoustic-based songs that truly demonstrate that Keith can be a sturdy, memorable songwriter. True, he does descend into cloying cuteness on occasion ("Huckleberry"), but the stretch of songs from "It Works for Me" through "That's Not How It Is" that ends the record is among his finest, and they're balanced by a couple of good moments from the first side (the silly fun of "Good to Go to Mexico," "Losing My Touch") and, of course, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." That song may mischaracterize what's on Unleashed, but those who are brought in by that slice of flag-waving jingoism should be pleased by the sweeter fare here since, ultimately, it proves to be more substantive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released October 20, 1998 | Mercury Nashville


Country - Released January 1, 2004 | DreamWorks Nashville

Toby Keith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 picks up where his first hits collection, 1998's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, left off -- in 1999, when Keith signed to DreamWorks. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover everything Keith released between 1999's How Do You Like Me Now?! and Greatest Hits, Vol. 2's release in November 2004. It inexplicably bypasses his 2003 album Shock'n Y'All entirely, which means that number one hits "I Love This Bar," "American Soldier," and "Whiskey Girl" are nowhere to be found. Instead, there are three selections from his first three DreamWorks albums -- How Do You Like Me Now?!, 2001's Pull My Chain, and 2002's Unleashed -- adding three new recordings plus live takes of "You Ain't Much Fun" and "Should've Been a Cowboy," which he originally cut for Mercury. This means this hits collection is far from complete, missing not just Shock'n Y'All, but smaller DreamWorks hits like "When Love Fades," and the new material doesn't quite make up for their absence, even if the straight-ahead "Go With Her" and the carnivalesque "Stays in Mexico" are enjoyable (his update of the James Taylor/Carly Simon duet on Inez & Charlie Foxx's "Mockingbird," recorded with Krystal, is another matter entirely). So, Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 isn't as comprehensive or accurate as it should have been, but what is here is for the most part enjoyable, and a good way to get for casual fans to get most of his biggest hits of the 2000s in one place. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released June 12, 2008 | Show Dog Distribution Deal

Toby Keith really is a throwback to a different time, a time when artists came into their own after kicking around for a while, a time when the most popular artists were also restlessly creative. In other words, he hearkens back to the heyday of outlaw country, when Willie and Waylon were making their own way with records that sounded different each time out, a claim that certainly can be made with every record Keith released in the 2000s. With White Trash with Money, he tops himself, delivering not only his fifth excellent album in a row, but his riskiest, richest record yet. For this, his tenth studio album, Keith teams up with country renegade singer/songwriter Lari White, an underappreciated country singer/songwriter who made a shift toward country-soul on her 2004 album Green Eyed Soul. It's an unusual choice in many respects. First, it's a surprise that Keith has parted ways with producer James Stroud, who has been co-producing his records since 1997's Dream Walkin', but it's also a surprise because White isn't known for her productions, and her albums don't necessarily seem like kindred spirits with the swaggering, macho Keith. But surprises can sometimes be exactly right, and White Trash with Money is pretty damn near perfect, a testament to Keith's often underappreciated versatility and his songwriting skill. White eases Keith into new sonic territory, somewhat related to Green Eyed Soul but never far removed from the loose-limbed neo-outlaw country Keith has been mining since the turn of the millennium. By working with White, Keith has added just enough new colors to his palette to let listeners truly appreciate the range in his music. That slight yet significant shift in tone is immediately evident, as the album kicks off with the rowdy, horn-driven "Get Drunk and Be Somebody." With its soulful strut, it recalls White's work, but the album shift gears before it can get pigeonholed, with "A Little Too Late" recalling both lush Nashville country-pop productions and Dwight Yoakam's classicist spin on the same sound, and "Can't Buy You Money" bringing to mind a straight-ahead version of Bobbie Joe Gentry's neo-gothic masterpiece "An Ode to Billie Joe." Soon, the changes in mood settle down, and a spare, muscular version of Keith's country dominates the album, but the music is more robust than it was even on Honkytonk University; there are little flourishes, from soulful organs and guitars, that make these songs full-bodied. This variety brings life to what very well may be Keith's best set of songs. Like Honkytonk University, White Trash with Money lacks the ornery patriotism of the post-9/11 work that brought him fame and it keeps the focus on the basics: love, drinking, heartbreak, forgotten anniversaries, tequila, family, and happiness. Keith's humor is out in full force, and not just on the three new "Bus Session" songs that conclude the record. He's loose and limber, bringing a big heart to these tunes, and to the album as a whole. This is an addictive record, enveloping in its sound and memorable in its songs, and it's proof positive that there has been no other country artist as risky, rich, or consistent as Toby Keith this decade. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released January 1, 1997 | Island Mercury

The very title of Dream Walkin' has a hazy, laid-back quality, which is rather appropriate since this, Toby Keith's fourth album, comes from the close of his time at Mercury Records, when he was singing more ballads than rockers and when he was cutting nearly as many covers as he was originals. It was all part of an attempt to have Keith fit within the country music machine and he's good enough of a ballad singer to have this work well, although the tunes not written by Keith -- "We Were in Love," Sting's "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" -- don't showcase his underrated, understated subtle singing as well as his original ballads, which have a nice sense of grace. Similarly, the wannabe swagger of "Double Wide Paradise" doesn't have the snap of Keith's own livelier material such as the rip-roaring "Jacky Don Tucker (Play by the Rules Miss All the Fun)" and the refurbished Western swing of "I Don't Understand My Girlfriend," both of which go a long way on Keith's outsized humor, or his excellent "She Ran Away with a Rodeo Clown," which plays like a deserved tribute to Moe Bandy. There aren't many of these livelier tunes here -- enough to make an impact, enough to make you wish there were more, but even if this is heavy on the smooth stuff, Dream Walkin' rides its mellow vibes in an appealing fashion. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released January 1, 2005 | DreamWorks Nashville

Snicker all you want at Toby Keith's shoutout to his "boys in Afghanistan and Baghdad City" in the chorus of "Honkytonk U" -- Keith may pander, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deliver the goods. And deliver he does on Honkytonk University, his 2005 follow-up to 2003's hit Shock'n Y'all and the second album he's released since 2002's Unleashed made him into a bonafide superstar thanks to its post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)." That song pegged Keith as a right-wing, red-state country singer, but that's not exactly an accurate designation. Not only is he nowhere near as simple as Darryl Worley, but his patriotic posturing was savvy, a good way to endear him to his core audience and broaden his base, all the while being able to keep his country pure, without a trace of pop schmaltz in its arrangements. Honkytonk University, as its title suggests, confirms that Keith is the biggest hardcore country singer this side of Alan Jackson, but where Jackson is a strict traditionalist, Keith is a rowdy modern man, building on the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings and the sound of latter-day Merle Haggard, throwing in traces of Dwight Yoakam along with a keen eye for contemporary life. He takes such time-honored themes as love, broken hearts, and drinking and gives them new life through his sharp details and sense of humor -- best heard on the wonderfully self-depreciating "As Good as I Once Was" and the absurd, over-the-top "You Ain't Leavin' (Thank God Are Ya)" -- and a strong sense of craft. He's been writing good barroom weepers and party tunes for a long time, but here, the love ballads and sad songs are just as good, and there are such nice, breezy changes of pace as "Where You Gonna Go" that recall the best of rolling, folk-influenced country. Indeed, there's a greater variety of sounds and styles on Honkytonk University than many Toby Keith records -- there's honky tonk, to be sure, but that's only the starting point -- and that variety, along with the consistently strong set of original songs (all bearing Keith's writing credits, many co-written by Scotty Emerick), makes this one of his very best records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Country - Released August 10, 2001 | DreamWorks Nashville


Country - Released January 1, 1996 | Polydor

Long before Toby Keith rose to fame as the boot-brandishing "Angry American" of post-9/11 country music, the Oklahoma native was a well-regarded performer who regularly appeared on the charts, but hadn't yet gained mainstream superstar status. On this 1996 outing, Keith, backed by his Easy Money Band, offers up a largely romantic set. "Me Too" finds him calling in sick to work just so he can stay home with his lady, while "A Woman's Touch" features the singer pondering matters of the heart over gently twinkling keyboards, and "Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You" stands out as a particularly tender, if not schmaltzy, ballad. In fact, aside from the upbeat tunes "She's Gonna Get It" and "Hello," the record is a notably downtempo affair that calls attention to Keith's resonant vocals. A far cry from his rowdy, hard-drinking later albums Unleashed and Shockn' Y'All, Blue Moon showcases the sensitive side of Keith to charming effect.

Country - Released September 17, 1994 | Mercury Nashville


Country - Released April 15, 2003 | Mercury Nashville