My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Cheap Trick

Single Review: Martin Ramey – ‘I Want You To Want Me’

Eighteen months after the release of Brad Martin and John Ramey’s debut single together, ‘Twisted’ (one of my favorites of 2010), Curb has finally got around to a successor. The song is a cover of a rock hit, Cheap Trick’s ‘I Want You To Want Me’. I was initially anxious about this choice, but the duo do a fine job transforming it into a country ballad. It is significantly slowed down from the original, allowing the melody to shine and sound almost soothing, and the lyrics to take center stage.

A touching reading really brings out the emotion of the lyrics. There is a palpable longing in Brad Martin’s tender lead vocal supported by a close harmony from singing partner John Ramey make this a real pleasure to hear. A sensitive, low-key production by veteran Jim Ed Norman is perfect, allowing the duo’s intertwined voices to shine. This is one of the most effective reworkings of a pop/rock song into a country one I’ve ever heard, and I’m getting very impressed with the act in general. Their incredibly tight harmonies are what really set them apart, and I want to hear more. I hope the album they’re working on with Norman will make its way out of the Curb vaults before too much longer.

The single is downloadable from iTunes and other digital sources now, with a radio push to follow soon.

Grade: A-

Listen on Spotify.

Buy the single at amazon.

Album Review: Dwight Yoakam – ‘Tomorrow’s Sounds Today’

Dwight’s final album for Reprise, released in 2000, comprised mostly self-penned material produced by Pete Anderson. A few months earlier, Dwight had re-imagined many of his earlier hits on, and this album feels like a conscious attempt to look forward to a new phase of his career. The sound mixes traditional country with prominent fiddle and steel on many tracks, and three collaborations with Dwight’s mentor Buck Owens, with rock influences. It was a distinctive combination which probably only Dwight could have made.

The catchy ‘What Do You Know About Love’ has a typically insistent Dwight groove but sounds quite contemporary, and was the album’s only (modest) hit single, peaking at #26. It was his last ever time in the country top 40, but is a pretty good song and should have done better than it did.

Dwight’s cover of the rock song ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ had been his last big hit (from the Last Chance For A Thousand Years hits compilation), peaking at #12 in 1999. He attempted to repeat this success by releasing a version of Cheap Trick’s 1970s hit ‘I Want You To Want Me’ as the second single from Tomorrow’s Sounds Today, but it barely scraped into the top 50. It is pleasant enough and doesn’t sound out of place here, but it is rather repetitive and doesn’t really stand out either.

Harking back to his earlier days the album closes with two last duets with Buck Owens. ‘I Was There’, a buddyish cover of a song Buck recorded on one of his late 80s comeback releases, was the final (and sadly non-charting) single. The cheery love song ‘Alright, I’m Wrong’ was written by Pete Anderson, and is served up with some Tex-Mex accordion from Flaco Jimenez; it’s entertaining, but the lyrics don’t work as a male/male duet with swapped lines. Better than either of these, and in fact one of the best tracks on the album, is the mournful steel-laced ‘The Sad Side Of Town’ in the middle of the album, which Buck wrote with Dwight, and on which he sings harmony in a way reminiscent of his legendary sideman Don Rich’s work on his classic recordings.

The album’s title notwithstanding, there is plenty more material firmly rooted in country music’s rich traditions. I really like the melodic ‘Time Spent Missing You’ with its prominent fiddle and steel, mandolin courtesy of Chris Hillman, and close harmonies from Jim Lauderdale. The mid-tempo ‘Heartaches Are Free’ is another highlight, and one with particularly prominent steel.

‘A Promise You Can’t Keep’ is a fine if gloomy country ballad doubting the protagonist’s partner’s words of love with a pain-infused vocal. ‘A World Of Blue’ is a lovely ballad with a sad lyric but relaxed loungy vocal which strikes a faintly jarring note, but sounds good.

Some tracks are less successful for me. I found the jaded ‘Dreams Of Clay’, ‘For Love’s Sake’, and the opening track ‘Love Caught Up To Me’ all rather forgettable. ‘Free To Go’ is catchy enough but has a rather cynical lyric about the transience of love, which I didn’t really like. ‘A Place To Cry’ is rockier and is too loud, cluttered and rushed for my taste. But with 14 tracks, there is room for some experiments to fail.

Overall, this was a solid effort with some high quality material. Although it failed to capture the interest of country radio, it has a lot to appeal to Dwight Yoakam fans.

Grade: B+

Although the CD version is now out of print, Tomorrow’s Sounds Today is easy to find at a reasonable price and is also available digitally.