Latin Conference & Awards

Long Way Around: An Anthology1991-2001

It's always a real treat when the work of an artist whose critical acclaim far outweighs his or her commercial success gets this sort of treatment, especially from a top-notch reissue company like Leg

It's always a real treat when the work of an artist whose critical acclaim far outweighs his or her commercial success gets this sort of treatment, especially from a top-notch reissue company like Legacy. And when such a collection arrives, it's usually destined to be either the only one of its kind or the only one to be released for a quite a while. With that said, it's disheartening to see the absence of one of Whitley's best cuts, the title track of his debut, 1991's Living With Law, as well as anything from 2000's Live at Martyrs and that year's covers collection, Perfect Day. (This is made even more bothersome when discovering that 13 minutes of disc space went unused.) And because Whitley has had so little commercial success, the choosing of his "best work" becomes even more subjective. But purely as a starter kit, Long Way Around works just fine, chronicling this deeply soulful singer/ songwriter/ guitarist's journey from Delta blues and Dust Bowl balladry to the 21st century electro-soul of 2001's Rocket House. Each of his five studio sets are represented through 17 cuts (seven previously unreleased). Timeless and breathtaking as ever is "Big Sky Country"; "Weightless" is completely elevating; the sexy, sludgy "Narcotic Prayer" is infinitely cool. Modern-day backporch blues workouts get no better than "Home Is Where You Get Across." Adding still more class to an already elegant package is longtime Billboard scribe Bradley Bambarger's on-point analysis of Whitley's career thus far.—WO