The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt

Fair enough — with a couple of exceptions (schmaltzy duets with James Ingram and Aaron Neville), the twenty-one tracks here are among Linda Ronstadt's very best. From "Different Drum," her still-affecting 1967 folk-rock hit with the Stone Poneys, to her wry rendering of Warren Zevon's "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" and spry covers of chestnuts such as Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A." and the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved," Ronstadt has always sung with a rare combination of intelligence, feeling and sheer skill.

This set concentrates exclusively on mainstream pop, however, avoiding Ronstadt's often bold ventures into New Wave, American standards and traditional Mexican songs. It's satisfying on its own limited terms, but this collection might disappoint if you believe that her willingness to experiment is part of what's the very best about Linda Ronstadt.

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