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Collin Raye's albums should come with a warning... "Caution.. the enclosed material is highly addictive!" To take it one step further, I could say the same about the man himself. Having the opportunity to review his music is more than an honor for me... it's truly personal.

I was raised on a mixture of country and rock 'n' roll music... loving both... but as I grew up, more of my friends listened to rock and I naturally went with the flow. During the late 80s and early 90s, the rock music played on the radio became so "jaded" that I spent my time driving to and from work with one hand on the wheel and the other on the radio searching for at least one good song. Then one day, I heard a voice, ringing as clear as crystal, it crept into my soul. It was Collin Raye singing, "In This Life". Little did I know then how that voice would literally change the course of my life.

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It may sound overly dramatic to claim that one artist can change the path of a person's life but in my case, that is exactly what happened. I locked that radio station on my car stereo... I never had to use the seek button again as I'd found the music that was not only entertaining but seemed to speak to me and make sense of my life. Remember the "walkman" (pre-iPod days)? Well, I bought one and the first country tape I'd bought in years was Collin Raye's, "In This Life". While at work I hooked the walkman to my jeans and listened to that tape over and over. When it was time to go home, the tape went into my car stereo and with both hands on the wheel, I drove home with a sense of peace. The next time I went shopping, I bought Collin's first album, "All I Can Be" along with Willie Nelson and a few other choice favorites. A new trend was setting it's course without my knowing it.. I just knew I had something to help me get through the days... and the nights.

I eventually created in 1996 to pay tribute to the artists that actually made coping with the particulars in my life easier to bear and Collin Raye was among the first to be posted among my favorite artists on MKOC. This may all sound quite trivial to some, but it was a milestone in my life. As you can see from the site itself, MKOC has been a constant in my life as have the artists... from the stars to the independents who came to know me through my work and have remained friends of mine all these many years. It was through these friendships that the artists joined hands and helped to fund another passion that actually came to be through the existence of MKOC... the Child Alert Foundation. There have been countless benefits with the artists, stars and indies alike who gave freely of their talent and merchandise to raise funds for CAF.

So you see, I am not exaggerating when I say that Collin Raye literally changed my life. It was Collin's voice that brought me back to my roots... and it was the songs he sang that gave me hope and a sense of knowing there's more "In This Life" than our own needs and that the giving of ourselves to others can be so much more fulfilling than the instant gratification of the "here and now". That is how Collin has conducted his life and set an example for so many others, through his music and by being the man he is.

While my job here is to introduce Collin's latest achievement, not rattle on about my life, I found myself compelled to relate what his music has meant to me personally... because music is nothing if not personal... and as I listened to this CD, all the memories of my initial introduction to Collin Raye's music came flowing over me like it was only yesterday.

Now, about Collin's new CD, "Selected Hits". This (once again) demonstrates not only how powerful Collin is as a performer, it is a testament to how Collin... the man... conducts his life in his giving to others. Collin created his own record label so he could make the music he wants.. his way... the way his fans came to love him in the first place, which to me, speaks highly of his character and conviction of his art. With this being his first project on his new label, he came up with a new concept to make the music more affordable to the fans.

"Selected Hits" contains 6 songs; two new ones and four of his most requested hits. There's also a 7th track on the album where Collin explains to listeners exactly why he created the new label and his reasons behind his choice of songs.

The first two tracks are new songs and both conscience raising themes for which Collin has always gravitated to. The first, "A Soldier's Prayer" speaks to the soldier about his/her endeavors and the power of prayer. "Deep in the heart of war, God hears a soldier's prayer". On the CD, you'll also learn how the net proceeds from this song are going to the "Wounded Warrior" project to assist those men and women in service who have been injured in the war on terrorism. Collin clearly states that it is not about politics or whether or not the war is right or wrong... it's for the wounded, period. Again, the song not only raises social awareness but is being used to financially aide those who have come in harms way fighting for their country.

The second song, "Quitters" raises awareness to the handicapped.. telling the story of how a young boy in a wheelchair refuses to believe he'll remain in it throughout his life as he fights his daily fight to overcome his boundaries, physical as well as social. I was so happy to see that one of the co-writers of this song is George Canyon... a young man who I first reviewed in 1996 as an independent artist struggling to make his way in this crazy business and years later, not only became a contestant on "Nashville Star", he came in second and was offered a contract with Capitol Records. I saw a poetic justice mixed with the message of "Quitters when I saw that George was one of the writers... he never quit and has not only survived, but succeeded... as has Collin Raye. It's a message of hope, faith and courage... and a lesson to those of us more fortunate who tend to "look the other way". It takes a man like Collin to see the validity in such a song and and put it on his first independent venture. Independent yes, but not in the least short of the highest of professionalism. These two tracks were produced by Alabama's Teddy Gentry and Michael Curtis

2thumbsup.jpg (7954 bytes)The four past hits Collin chose to put on this CD are among the top requested, including his first big hit, written by the great Skip Ewing, "Love, Me". These songs were all recorded live with the Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra. Now I'm not particularly a fan of the live concert type albums because of the noise... there's no problem of that here. The accoustics are fabulous and it's actually fun to hear the audience rave as he starts to sing, and in some parts, he shares the "stage" with the audience as he flips the mic to them and they sing the required line. I've seen Collin live on stage and it's something you never forget.. the energy he resonates on an upbeat tune is electric and the passion with which he sings a ballad will leave you feeling as though he's singing it to you alone. Collin is a crowd-pleaser, on and off the stage.

I mentioned briefly Collin's concept on saving the fans money with this type of CD... I mean, come on... it only has 6 songs! That's right, it only has 6 songs but it costs LESS than $6 if you buy it at Wal-Mart! Think about it... the least you pay for downloading songs on the net is 99 cents and then you have to burn them to a CD yourself... you don't have all the artwork, etc. How can you pass up a deal like this?? Honestly, if I had to go out and buy the CD myself, I would gladly spend the few dollars it costs... and then to know that part of the proceeds go to wounded soldiers makes it that much more worthy. You can give and get all for one low price. Does it get any sweeter?

Bottom line... If you're a Collin Raye fan, this is a must-have for your collection. If you are just now discovering Collin's vast talents, this package is the perfect introduction to his music... and I guarantee, it won't be the last Collin Raye CD you'll buy. "Select Hits" gets a thumbs up from me... and I'm all thumbs! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Thank you, Collin... for everything.  Love, Me...

Marlene Slater (Marli)
My Kind of Country

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1.  A Soldier's Prayer

2.  Quitters

3.  That's My Story

4.  Little Rock

5.  I Think About You

6.  Love, Me

p & 2007 StarPointe Records All rights reserved.

You can purchase "Selected Hits" for less than $6 at your local Wal-Mart

A little extra from me to you... a sample of the song that brought me back to my roots:
In This Life

Find All Collin Raye CDs on Amazon

Visit the Official Collin Raye Web Site



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