Coinciding with the 35th anniversary of Denver
's first album release on RCA, this two-disc, 25-track overview of the country-pop singer's storied career is the most concise and nuanced yet. Digitally remastered from the original master tapes, road-trip classics like "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Back Home Again" are as warm as the singer's lauded tenor. There are no gimmicky re-recorded cuts or disappointing live tracks -- "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" spent its time on the charts in its live incarnation -- and his spotty '80s material is only briefly covered ("Perhaps Love" and "Shanghai Breezes"). For those unwilling to sift through the exhaustive four-CD Country Roads Collection
, Song's Best Friend: The Very Best of John Denver
is a good buy and a rewarding visit with an old friend.