16 Biggest Hits does a good job representing the highlights of Bobby Bare
's unwieldy catalog, which ranges from the early '60s to the early '80s and includes a stint with RCA Victor (1962-1969), Mercury (1970-1972), a second one with RCA (1973-1977), and then one with Columbia (1978-1983). Most Bare best-ofs round up his RCA hits, especially those from the '60s. Some even tack on a little of his Columbia work now that the RCA and Columbia vaults both fall under Sony BMG ownership. In rare cases, a best-of will include licensed Mercury recordings. 16 Biggest Hits is one such rarity. Granted, it only includes a token Mercury hit, "That's How I Got to Memphis," but one is better than none, especially when it's such a fine song. And so 16 Biggest Hits represents all eras of Bare's career. His first RCA stint is well represented with seven inclusions: "500 Miles Away from Home," "The Streets of Baltimore," "Detroit City," "Miller's Cave," "Four Strong Winds," "(Margie's At) The Lincoln Park Inn," and "It's Alright." The second RCA stint is fairly well represented with five inclusions: Billy Joe Shaver
's "Ride Me Down Easy," a trio of Shel Silverstein
-penned songs from the 1973 live classic Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies
("Daddy What If," "Marie Lavaux," "The Winner"), and "Dropkick Me, Jesus." The generally neglected Columbia era is poorly represented, unfortunately, with only a pair of songs from Bare's second live classic, Down & Dirty
("Tequila Sheila," "Numbers" -- both Silverstein-penned). Some non-live Columbia inclusions would have been nice, even if it were only a single song, if only for the sake of representation. On the other hand, there's precious little room on this 16-track best-of for a catalog as deep and wide-ranging as Bare's. Curiously, the compilers tacked "The All American Boy," Bare's often-compiled 1958 rarity, onto the end. It's a fun addition, even if doesn't fit in, and it only adds to the wondrous scope of 16 Biggest Hits.