Columbia/Legacy's 2001 release The Essential Kenny Loggins lives up to its billing, and not just because it has all of Loggins' solo hits. No, this collection earns its title because it contains no less than seven Kenny-fronted Loggins & Messina tracks, along with all his big solo hits, plus a sharp selection of album tracks and latter-day material, for a grand total of 35 tracks over two CDs. That's a lot of material, and many listeners may find that they are drawn to the first disc, which truly captures him in his prime by spanning from "Your Mama Don't Dance" to the era just before "Footloose." This is a compulsively listenable disc, from the sweet singer/songwriterisms of "Danny's Song" and "House at Pooh Corner" to the exquisitely crafted soft rock of "This Is It" and "Heart to Heart," two of the greatest singles of their kind. If the second disc isn't as good, it's largely because it's a mishmash of dated '80s productions and latter-career cultism; there's still good stuff here, but apart from the first six songs, it's for the serious fan. That, however, is not a criticism that can be lodged of The Essential Kenny Loggins as a whole, since it far exceeds any other compilation in its scope and its success, presenting all sides of this fine, mellow singer/songwriter. Plus, the first disc is a stellar listen in its own right.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi