There's little question that Hip-O's 2001 double-disc set, Anthology, is a thorough, definitive overview of .38 Special's career, spanning from their hit-laden A&M albums, through their '90s albums for Charisma and Razor & Tie, and wrapping up with a studio cut from the CMC International release, Live at Sturgis. This is a good thing, if you're just judging an album in terms of comprehensiveness, which just may be what the dedicated are looking for, but if you're not dedicated, this collection is awfully long. That's not to say it doesn't do a good job of summarizing the group's career, since it does, but the hits -- "Rockin' in to the Night," "Hold on Loosely," "Caught Up in You," "If I'd Been the One," "Back Where You Belong" -- are so good, that the rest of the material is shown as the good, but generic, material that it is. So, for the casual fans, it might be better to seek out a more concise collection, including the 20th Century Masters disc, since they're almost all there. Yes, this collection contains a few gems not readily available on that disc or other collections -- the teachers theme, "Teacher, Teacher," and the hit ballad "Second Chance" -- but this still remains the province of the converted, not the casual.
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