REO Speedwagon reached the Billboard charts 24 times. Not all of those were big hits, of course. Some of the early singles barely qualified for the Hot 100, while some of the latter-day hits made no waves outside of the Mainstream Rock charts, which means that they are relatively unheard by the pop audience that loved Hi Infidelity and "Can't Fight This Feeling." In other words, all the big hits could have been assembled on a single-disc collection, but Epic/Legacy's 2004 release The Essential REO Speedwagon is a sprawling double-disc, 33-track history. There's a reason for that. The extra space gives plenty of room for the band -- and Kevin Cronin was indeed a co-producer on this set -- to show that they weren't just a power ballad powerhouse, that they also rocked hard and stretched out on occasion. Consequently, The Essential is more of a history than a standard hits collection. If anything, the hits take a back seat, with the first big anthem, "Roll With the Changes," not showing up until track 13 and Hi Infidelity not rearing its head until the second disc. If you just want the hits, the appropriately titled 1988 collection The Hits will serve those up, but Essential digs deeper, hitting nearly all of the key album tracks, concert staples, and fan favorites, drawing a picture of a band that was more muscular and complex than the hits, particularly power ballads like "Can't Fight This Feeling," would suggest. It's not for every listener, but for those fans who want more than the hits but don't want full-length albums, this is the perfect solution.