Liberty 29689
 


Producer: Allen Reynolds


Track listing: Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes Up) / Friends in Low Places / Callin’ Baton Rouge / The River / Much Too You (to Feel This Damn Old) / The Thunder Rolls / American Honkym Tank Bar Association / If Tomorrow Never Comes / Unanswered Prayers / Standing Outside the Fire / Rodeo / What She’s Doing Now / We Shall Be Free / Papa Loved Mama / Shameless / Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House / That Summer / The Dance


January 7, 1995


5 weeks (nonconsecutive)


 


The Hits, Garth Brooks’s first greatest-hits album, was the country super­star’s first Number One album not to debut at the top. Facing such stiff competition as Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy and Kenny G’s Miracles: The Holi­day Album, The Hits debuted at number three on December 31, 1994. Yet it only took a week for the album to push its way to the top.


When superstar artists reach a certain point in their careers, a compilation of their hits is a natural. Yet Brooks, an artist with a keen business sense, was initially a little leery of releasing such a collec­tion, fearing it might cut into sales of his previous releases. While Brooks’ six pre­vious albums, including the chart-toppers Ropin’ the Wind, The Chase, and In Pieces, are all multi-platinum sellers, their sales poten­tial had yet to be completely topped.


Brooks finally agreed to allow Liber­ty to release a hits album, but only if the label played by his rules. He wanted to keep the CD’s list price low, at $15.98, instead of the usual superstar price of $17.98 or $18.98. The pricing was particularly unusual for a country album featuring 18 songs, as most country artists, including Brooks, limit their albums to 10 tracks. Brooks also want­ed the album to be available only for a limited time period, so that The Hits would promote his previous albums instead of cannibalizing his catalog sales. An added bonus was a free “CD Zooming” sampler, which featured snip­pets of the 60 songs featured on his six albums, giving consumers a taste of a potential purchase.


Although not assembled chronologi­cally and lacking any cuts from Brooks’s 1992 Beyond the Season Christmas album, The Hits offers an ample overview of Brooks’s career, with three


tracks from his 1990 self-titled debut; four tracks from 1990’s breakthrough No Fences album; five tracks from Brooks’s most successful album, 1991’s Ropin’ the Wind; only two from 1992’s The Chase, an album recorded during particularly difficult period for Brooks and four from 1993’s In Pieces.


On the eve of the album’s release, Brooks told Billboard‘s Melinda New­man that The Hits effectively capped a phase in his career. “That’s another reason why we decided to do it now,” he said. “It’s the end of the beginning for ­us.”


Liberty stopped shipping The Hits to retailers on September 22, 1995 though the album was mothballed in less than a year, SoundScan figures show that it still managed to sell more than 5.9 million copies.

THE TOP FIVE


Week of January 7, 1995


1. The Hits, Garth Brooks


2. Miracles: The Holiday Album, Kenny G


3. Vitalogy, Pearl Jam


4. II, Boyz II Men


5. Hell Freezes Over, Eagles




Liberty 29689
 

Producer: Allen Reynolds

Track listing: Ain’t Goin’ Down (Til the Sun Comes

Up) / Friends in Low Places / Callin’ Baton Rouge / The River / Much Too You (to Feel This Damn Old) …