My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Billy Ray Cyrus

Album Review: Don Williams – ‘New Moves’

Don’s last studio album for MCA, Café Carolina, was released in 1984, although the label continued t package compilations of his work for them for some years. He was still a consistent hit maker, but the label was keen to introduce new stars, and Don may have felt less well promoted than he had done previously, and in 1985 he signed a deal with Capitol Records. The first album for Capitol, released in January 1986, was appropriately entitled New Moves, although there were no significant changes in his music – he even retained an existing co-production partnership with Garth Fundis from his last MCA album. Half the album’s tracks ended up being promoted as singles, and all reached the top 10, proving that there was still a place for Don Williams at the top even as the younger neotraditionalists were sweeping other older artists aside.

The lead single, the Dave Loggins-penned ‘We’ve Got A Good Fire Goin’’, is a very nice love song about the comforts of a settled relationship, with a subtle arrangement, although there are unnecessary and slightly intrusive choir-style backing vocals in the second half of the song. It peaked at #3. The album’s biggest hit, the mid-paced ‘Heartbeat In The Darkness’ (another Loggins song, this time co-written with Russell Smith) was Don’s last ever chart topper, but has not worn very well, with production which now sounds a little dated, although the song itself is pleasant enough.

The pace lifts still further with the lively ‘Then It’s Love’, which peaked at #3. It was written by Dennis Linde, best known for writing Elvis’s ‘Burning Love’, and has a saxophone-dominated arrangement with Don trying out a bit of an Elvis impression at the end, which is quite fun and not typical of Williams’ usual music.

The mainly spoken story song ‘Senorita’, written by Hank De Vito and Danny Flowers, performed less well, but was still a top 10 hit. I found it rather boring. The final single, ‘I’ll Never Be In Love Again’ (written by Bob Corbin) reached #4. To my ears it is the best of the singles, a classic Don Williams gentle ballad about surviving (more or less) the loss of love, with a delicate accompaniment featuring flute and harmonica. Lovely.

A number of artists have recorded Bob McDill’s ‘Shot Full Of Love’ ranging from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (my favorite take) to Billy Ray Cyrus, but I don’t think it’s ever been the hit it deserves to be. It’s a very good song, but the lyric, about an outlaw type who has broken a lot of hearts in his time but is unexpectedly felled by love, doesn’t really fit Don’s good guy persona or smooth voice. It still makes pleasant listening, but is not entirely convincing. (The McCarters’ beautiful sounding version ha few years later had the same flaw.) Another McDill tune, ‘We Got Love’, is a pleasant love song but not very memorable.

‘Send Her Roses’, written by Pat McLaughlin, who plays mandolin on the track, is a perky number about abandoning a travelling life (with several allusions to other songs) for a settled home with the protagonist’s wife. It is highly enjoyable.

Don’s own ‘The Light In Your Eyes’ is a pretty romantic piano-led ballad, which is very nice indeed. The mid paced ‘It’s About Time’, another love song, is also pretty good.

Grade: B+

The album has been packaged with Don’s other Capitol album Traces on a 2-4-1 CD.

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Album Review: Little Texas – ‘First Time for Everything’

177460_1_fLittle Texas released their debut album, First Time for Everything, in March 1992. The record, co-produced by James Stroud, came a little more than three years into their contract with the Nashville division of Warner Bros.

The band’s debut single was recorded in December 1990, but released in September 1991. “Some Guys Have All The Love” is an excellent piano and percussion laced mid-tempo ballad with ear-catching harmonies from the group. The song’s official title is ‘love’ but I have heard it called “Some Guys Have All The Luck,” as well. The track peaked at #8.

The B-side of their debut, the album’s title track, was issued as the second single. The track is a countrified power ballad I never really hated, but finally analyzing the lyrics for this review proves otherwise. “First Time For Everything” is weak, and justifiably peaked at #13.

“You and Forever and Me” was the album’s most successful single, and remains one of my favorite songs Little Texas released during their heyday. The track retains their formula, yet succeeds on the winning melody, Tim Rushlow’s wonderful lead vocal, and the band’s harmonies. The song peaked at #5.

The final two singles were ones I never even knew about until digging into Little Texas for this review. Both charted in the low teens, so their exclusion from the band’s Greatest Hits album is justifiable. “What Were You Thinkin,’” a bland mid-tempo in similar vein, peaked at #17. The final single, the warmed over pop ballad “I’d Rather Miss You” didn’t do much better, reaching #16.

The five remaining numbers showed Little Texas playing with a wider array of sonic textures. The best of the bunch is “Down In The Valley,” a barnburner solely written by Brady Seals that gives Ricky Skaggs a run for his money. The worst is “Better Way,” a gravely mess.

I’ve always really enjoyed the first three singles from this album and never bothered to check out the rest until now. It’s hard to see where Little Texas fits into the greater conversation of the early-90s, especially with this album, which makes few concessions to stake a claim as anything resembling country music. I wasn’t aware, or at least I’d forgotten about the hair and fashion, which is enough to make Billy Ray Cyrus want to puke. The look and sound aren’t gelling with me.

But I’ve always really enjoyed Little Texas and some of my favorites from them come from this album. First Time for Everything is far from a fine album but it isn’t atrocious, either. I don’t think the melodies have aged too much and I still find the whole proceedings listenable. Those high marks say a lot about an album released almost twenty-five years ago.

Grade: B

Country roads and greener pastures

TaylorI was really happy to hear about the release of Taylor Swift’s new single last week. Now there’s something you never thought you’d hear me say. But (you knew there had to be a “but” coming, didn’t you?) I should qualify that comment by saying my mood was not affected so much because I was looking forward to listening to new Taylor Swift music, but because the single “Shake It Off” is a watershed moment in Swift’s career, as the artist, her label and her publicists acknowledge that 1989, Swift’s forthcoming album, is not country, but pop.

I will be the first to argue that this is hardly news and that Swift’s music was never really country to begin with, but it’s nice to hear the people responsible for marketing her finally admit it. While Swift’s defenders have argued for years that she was bringing new fans to the country genre, I always maintained that her youthful fanbase was unlikely to embrace the genre at large, and that Swift herself would eventually decide that the pop world was a better fit for her. The shift began with the release of 2012’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, which became the first Taylor Swift single to be deemed not country enough for country radio. It spent nine weeks at #1 anyway, due to a ridiculous change in Billboard’s chart tabulation methodology, but that is a separate topic.
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Week ending 8/3/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

brooks dunn - red dirt road1968: Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Brooks & Dunn – Red Dirt Road (Arista)

2008: Taylor Swift – Beautiful Eyes (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Week ending 7/27/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

trace adkins - greatest hits1968: Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Trace Adkins – Greatest Hits Collect, Vol. 1 (Capitol)

2008: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Week ending 7/20/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

johnny cash - at folsom prison1968: Johnny Cash – Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (Columbia)

1973: Jeanne Pruett – Satin Sheets (MCA)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Alabama – The Closer You Get (RCA)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Buddy Jewell – Buddy Jewell (Sony)

2008: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Week ending 7/13/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

lonestar greatest hits1968: Bobby Goldsboro – Honey (United Artists)

1973: Charlie Rich – Behind Closed Doors (Epic)

1978: Willie Nelson – Stardust (Columbia)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: Reba McEntire – Reba (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – It Won’t Be the Last (Mercury)

1998: Various Artists – Hope Floats: Music from the Motion Picture (Capitol)

2003: Lonestar – From There to Here: Greatest Hits (BNA)

2008: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2013: Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times (Republic Nashville)

Week ending 5/4/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

elvis presley - aloha from hawaii1968: Eddy Arnold – The Everlovin’ World of Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1973: Elvis Presley – Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite (RCA)

1978: Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson – Waylon & Willie (RCA Victor)

1983: Alabama – The Closer You Get (RCA)

1988: George Strait – If You Aint Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin’ (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1998: Shania Twain – Come On Over (Mercury)

2003: Darryl Worley – Have You Forgotten? (Dreamworks)

2008: Lady Antebellum – Lady Antebellum (Capitol)

2013: Blake Shelton – Based on a True Story (Warner Brothers)

Week ending 4/27/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

george strait - if you ain't lovin1968: Eddy Arnold – The Everlovin’ World of Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1973: Elvis Presley – Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite (RCA)

1978: Kenny Rogers – Ten Years of Gold (United Artists)

1983: Alabama – The Closer You Get (RCA)

1988: George Strait – If You Aint Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin’ (MCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1998: Shania Twain – Come On Over (Mercury)

2003: Dixie Chicks – Home (Open Wide/Columbia)

2008: George Strait – Troubador (MCA)

2013: Brad Paisley – Wheelhouse (Arista)

Week ending 4/20/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

ricky van shelton - wild eyed dream1968: Eddy Arnold – The Everlovin’ World of Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1973: Elvis Presley – Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite (RCA)

1978: Kenny Rogers – Ten Years of Gold/a> (United Artists)

1983: Alabama – The Closer You Get (RCA)

1988: Ricky Van Shelton – Wild Eyed Dream (Columbia)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1998: Shania Twain – Come On Over (Mercury)

2003: Chris Cagle – Chris Cagle (Capitol)

2008: George Strait – Troubador (MCA)

2013: The Band Perry – Pioneer (Republic)

Week ending 4/13/13: #1 albums this week in country music history

merle haggard willie nelson - pancho and lefty1968: Buck Owens – It Takes People Like You (Capitol)

1973: Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell – Dueling Banjos (Warner Brothers)

1978: Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson – Waylon & Willie (RCA Victor)

1983: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson – Pancho & Lefty (Epic)

1988: K.T. Oslin – 80’s Ladies (RCA)

1993: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1998: Shania Twain – Come On Over (Mercury)

2003: Dixie Chicks – Home (Open Wide/Columbia)

2008: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2013: Blake Shelton – Based on a True Story (Warner Brothers)

Spotlight Artist: Clint Black

clint_blackClinton Patrick “Clint” Black was born February 4, 1962 in Long Beach, NJ as the youngest of G.A. and Ann Black’s four children. Black was raised in Houston, moving from NJ to Texas before turning a year old. By age fifteen, Black was playing harmonica and guitar and had joined his brothers in a band. He would drop out of high school (and end his formal schooling) to play with the band full-time.

Black soon became a solo act and in the early 1980s he held gigs playing lounges by night and working construction (among other jobs) during the day. His interest in country music came through Reba McEntire and George Strait, who were bringing the traditional sounds he loved back to the genre. Black had a chance meeting with guitarist Hayden Nicholas in 1987, and was soon sending demos to promoter Sammy Alfano and meeting with ZZ Top’s manager Bill Ham, who quickly signed him as a client.

Not long after RCA Records came calling and signed Black to a record deal. His debut album Killin’ Time was released in May 1989 and success came instantaneously. Black’s first four singles (“A Better Man,” “Killin’ Time,” “Nobody’s Home” and “Walkin’ Away) topped the charts and the album reached multi-platinum status. In addition, he was the first male artist to have his debut single hit #1 in fourteen years and the breakout star in the famed ‘class if ‘89’ which saw debuts from future genre heavyweights including Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Travis Tritt among others. The success lead to bountiful recognition from the industry, with the CMA giving him the Horizon Award in 1989 and the ACM showering him with four awards including New Male and Top Male Vocalist and Album of the Year for Killin’ Time in 1990.

His sophomore effort Put Yourself In My Shoes came at the end of that year and he married actress Lisa Hartman in 1991. His second album wasn’t as revered as his debut despite selling more than three million units and containing two #1 hits. He also took part in a Roy Rogers tribute album, collaborating with Rogers on the duet “Hold On Partner.”

Black’s career took a hit in 1992 when he sued Ham for breach of contract, claiming he was being stiffed in royalties for his songs, all of which he had a hand in writing. Black was also hit with a paternity suit from a supposed former girlfriend who claimed Black had fathered her child. Being in and out of court put a strain on Black’s career and caused a one-year delay in the release of his third album, The Hard Way. In that time the country music industry had changed dramatically (Brooks and Tritt were now superstars while Billy Ray Cyrus was a cult favorite), causing RCA to wonder if he’d regain his footing. They need not worry as “When My Ship Comes In” would go #1 in early 1993.

He followed with a sexier image and No Time To Kill in 1994. A duet with Wynonna Judd, “A Bad Goodbye,” was a huge hit at radio and even prompted the ‘Black and Wy’ tour in 1994, the same year he would join Vince Gill as co-host for the CMA Awards. Black took part in winning Album of the Year that evening thanks to his recording of “Desperado” on the multi-artist Eagles tribute, Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles.

Success continued with One Emotion, and in 1995 he topped the charts with “Summer’s Comin.’” His first Greatest Hits album followed in 1996, and Nothin’ But The Tailights was released in 1997. Black was on top once again, thanks in part to major hits in the title track, “Something That We Do” and “The Shoes You’re Wearin.’” A duet with Martina McBride, “Still Holdin’ On” would be his first single to miss the top 10.

Black was able to keep the momentum going with the all-acoustic D’lectrified in 1999 and had major hits in “When I Said I Do” (a duet with his wife) and the harmonica-laced “Been There” with Steve Wariner. He and Hartman-Black had their only child, Lily Pearl, in May 2001. Black took a three-year hiatus from his career to focus on being a father.

He left RCA during this period to open his own label, Equity Records, and returned with Spend My Time in 2004, producing a top 20 hit with the title track. Another full-length project, Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic, followed in 2005 and The Long Cool EP was released in 2008. The EP contains Black’s last hit to date, “The Strong One,” which is the first solo single of Black’s career for which he doesn’t have a writing credit.

Equity closed that December amid economic difficulties and the departure of Little Big Town, the label’s only hit-making act. Black’s been very quiet in the years since (although he has been touring quite a bit around New England lately), but I’ve heard he’s working on new music he’s calling the best of his career. The new album is expected sometime this year and from what I understand there’s a push to get him back on the radio again. We shall see how it all turns out, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy our look back at his career throughout the month.

Week ending 9/29/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Johnny Cash – Greatest Hits Volume 1 (Columbia)

1972: Charley Pride – A Sunshiny Day (RCA Victor)

1977: Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: LeAnn Rimes – You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs (Curb)

2002: Dixie Chicks- Home (Sony)

2007: Kenny Chesney- Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates (RCA)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

Week ending 9/15/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Jack Greene – All The Time (Decca)

1972: Jerry Wallace – To Get To You (Decca)

1977: Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Hank Williams Jr. – Born To Boogie (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Trisha Yearwood – Songbook: A Collection of Hits (MCA)

2002: Dixie Chicks- Home (Sony)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Carrie Underwood – Blown Away (Sony/Arista)

Week ending 9/8/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Wynn Stewart – It’s Such A Pretty World Today (Capitol)

1972: Donna Fargo – Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. (Dot)

1977: Elvis Presley – Moody Blue (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Hank Williams Jr. – Born To Boogie (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2002: Toby Keith- Unleashed (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Dustin Lynch – Dustin Lynch (Broken Bow)

Week ending 9/1/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Wynn Stewart – It’s Such A Pretty World Today (Capitol)

1972: Donna Fargo – Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. (Dot)

1977: Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Hank Williams Jr. – Born To Boogie (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Tim McGraw – Everywhere (Curb)

2002: Toby Keith- Unleashed (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Zac Brown Band – Uncaged (Atlantic)

Week ending 8/25/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Jack Greene – All The Time (Decca)

1972: Donna Fargo – Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. (Dot)

1977: Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Tim McGraw – Everywhere (Curb)

2002: Toby Keith- Unleashed (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Colt Ford – Declaration of Independence (Average Joe’s)

Week ending 8/18/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Jack Greene – All The Time (Decca)

1972: Donna Fargo – Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A. (Dot)

1977: Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Tim McGraw – Everywhere (Curb)

2002: Toby Keith- Unleashed (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Zac Brown Band – Uncaged (Atlantic)

Week ending 8/11/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Jack Greene – All The Time (Decca)

1972: Charley Pride – The Best of Charley Pride, Vol. 2 (RCA)

1977: Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Tim McGraw – Everywhere (Curb)

2002: Toby Keith- Unleashed (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Zac Brown Band – Uncaged (Atlantic)

Week ending 8/4/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Jack Greene – All The Time (Decca)

1972: Charley Pride – The Best of Charley Pride, Vol. 2 (RCA)

1977: Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon (RCA)

1982: Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind (Columbia)

1987: Randy Travis – Always & Forever (Warner Brothers)

1992: Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All (Mercury)

1997: Tim McGraw – Everywhere (Curb)

2002: Darryl Worley – I Miss My Friend (Dreamworks)

2007: Taylor Swift – Taylor Swift (Big Machine)

2012: Zac Brown Band – Uncaged (Atlantic)