LISTENING to Alabama's big 1982 hit, "Mountain Music," one can't help but admire the lively pop-rock feel, the catchy melody and the impeccable playing. At the same time, when one hears the line, "Play some back-home, come-on music that comes straight from the heart," one quickly realizes that this slick Nashville professionalism has precious little to do with "back-home" or "the heart."
This contradiction runs through all 10 songs on Alabama's new anthology of "Greatest Hits." Alabama's spry, tuneful pop craftsmanship is certainly preferable to the schlock served up by Barbara Mandrell or Kenny Rogers, but the three cousins and their friend from northeast Alabama never come close to the deep-rooted, open-hearted music of Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard.
This collection includes eight No. 1 country hits (the new live versions of "Tennessee River" and "My Home's in Alabama" are each eight minutes long to accommodate Jeff Cooke's tasteful rock guitar solos). Two new songs are included: a schmaltzy tribute by the band to "The Fans," and the surefire hit, Dave Loggins' "She and I," a fine imitation of a Bob Seger love song.
ALABAMA -- "Greatest Hits" (RCA, AHL1-7170); appearing Sunday with the Charlie Daniels Band and the Bellamy Brothers at the Capital Centre.