Thirty years after the success of "American Pie," the Australian branch of EMI presents a 17-track, 61-minute compilation with the straightforward and frequently used title The Best of Don McLean. The song list includes selections from Tapestry (1970), American Pie (1971), Don McLean (1972), Playin' Favorites (1973), Homeless Brother (1974), Prime Time (1977), Chain Lightning (1978), and Believers (1981), among them such hits as "American Pie," "Vincent," "Crying," and "Castles in the Air" (the 1981 hit version). (Other U.S. chart entries that may not have made an impression in Australia and are not featured on the disc include "Dreidel," "If We Try," and "Since I Don't Have You.") Beyond the obvious favorites, an unnamed compiler has picked from among other McLean original compositions "And I Love You So," which was a hit for Perry Como; the environmentally conscious title song from Tapestry; and "Wonderful Baby," a 1930s-style number crafted for Fred Astaire. McLean's stated affection for Buddy Holly and '50s music in general is echoed in his covers of the Holly songs "Everyday," "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," and "Fool's Paradise." Fans may quibble whether these tracks are actually the absolute best of McLean's studio recordings, 1970-1981, but certainly many of his best and best-known tracks are here. ~ William Ruhlmann
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