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The Best of Leon Russell
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  • Photographers: Jim McCrary; Tyler Hubby.
  • Its release precipitated by the success of 2010's highly touted Elton John collaboration The Union, Capitol's 2011 The Best of Leon Russell is a necessary addition to Russell's catalog in a number of way. Not only is it designed to hook in those listeners who discovered or rediscovered the eccentric pianist via The Union -- "If It Wasn't for Bad," a selection from that 2010 LP, is placed right up front among the 16 songs -- but Russell hasn't had a compilation since 1997, when the Right Stuff released the single-disc Retrospective, a distillation of the previous year's double-disc Gimme Shelter, so it's time for a new disc. The Best of Leon Russell does its job very well, hitting all the obvious high points -- "A Song for You," "Hummingbird," "Tight Rope," and "Delta Lady" all follow in succession -- downplaying his Hank Wilson records a little but stopping for a duet with Willie Nelson on "Heartbreak Hotel" and finding space for his "Jumpin' Jack Flash/Youngblood" medley from The Concert for Bangladesh. Perhaps there are certain eccentricities that could have been included but this best-of provides the basics in a thoroughly entertaining fashion. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Professional Reviews
Spin (p.106) - "His best '70s solo work, most of which is included here, brought an eccentric glamminess to Southern roots music."

Record Collector (magazine) (p.100) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Russell's exemplary musicianship shines through....A maverick, a mystic, and all to often overlooked cornerstone of Americana."

Uncut (magazine) (p.101) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "This musicians' musician was revered on both sides of the pond for his status as a living, breathing embodiment of neon-lit American roadhouse music..."
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