#1's

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The popularity of No. 1s collections, inaugurated five years ago with the mania over The Beatles' 1 CD, has spread to country with George Strait's recent 50 Number Ones, Kenny Rogers' upcoming 21 Number Ones and this two-disc collection featuring Reba's 33 chart-toppers.

Of course, whether that number is correct depends on which charts you follow. Nonetheless, Reba's very biggest singles are all present here, even if the narrow format means that essential touchstones like "She Thinks His Name Was John" (which reached only No. 15) and "Fancy" (No. 8) are not. But in the torrent of hits, beginning with 1982's "Can't Even Get the Blues," you might not even miss them.

Reba's natural charm and sass are apparent from the earliest tracks here, although obscured somewhat by the 1980s' echo-laden production, blaring saxophones and mushy synthesizers. By the middle of the first disc the picture is clearing, and Reba soon hits her stride with sympathetic third-person narratives like "Is There Life out There" and clever duets like the Linda Davis back-and-forth "Does He Love You." The assured gracefulness of the final No. 1 here, last year's "Somebody," suggests there may be more chart-toppers to come.

—Chris Neal

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