My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: LeAnn Rimes

Week ending 11/3/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – Your Tender Loving Care (Capitol)

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: Garth Brooks – The Chase (Capitol)

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

2002: Faith Hill – Cry (Warner Brothers)

2007: Rascal Flatts – Still Feels Good (Lyric Street)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

Week ending 10/27/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Biliie Joe (Capitol)

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: Garth Brooks – The Chase (Capitol)

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

2002: Elvis Presley- 30 #1 Hits (RCA)

2007: Rascal Flatts- Still Feels Good (Lyric Street)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

Week ending 10/20/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Biliie Joe (Capitol)

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: Garth Brooks – The Chase (Capitol)

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

2002: Elvis Presley- 30 #1 Hits (RCA)

2007: Rascal Flatts- Still Feels Good (Lyric Street)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

Week ending 10/13/12: #1 albums this week in country music history

1967: Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Biliie Joe (Capitol)

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: Garth Brooks – The Chase (Capitol)

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

2002: Elvis Presley- 30 #1 Hits (RCA)

2007: Rascal Flatts- Still Feels Good (Lyric Street)

2012: Little Big Town – Tornado (Capitol)

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 9/8/12: #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)

Country Heritage: 25 from the ’80s

This article will focus on some artists who either had a very short period of great success or had an extended run of near-success. In other words, I cannot justify an entire article on any of them.

Deborah Allen was born in 1953 in Memphis, and probably has had greater success as a songwriter, having written hits for artists including Tanya Tucker, Sheena Easton and Janie Fricke. As a performer, RCA had the bright idea of dubbing her voice onto old Jim Reeves recordings to create duets. The three duets released as singles – “Don’t Let Me Cross Over,” “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight” and “Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me” – all went Top 10 in 1979-80. As a solo artist, Allen charted 10 times with three Top 10 singles: “Baby I Lied” (1983–#4), “I’ve Been Wrong Before” (1984–#2) and “I Hurt For You” (1984–#10).

Baillie and The Boys were a late 80s act which charted 10 times between 1987 and 1991 before disappearing from the charts. Seven of their hit records went Top 10, with “(I Wish I Had A) Heart of Stone” (1989–#4) being the biggest. Kathie Baillie was the lead singer, and while initially a trio, the group became a duo in 1988 with few people able to tell the difference.

Debby Boone is one of two answers to a trivia question – name the two families that have had a #1 pop record in each of three consecutive generations. One answer is obvious – the Nelson family – big band leader Ozzie Nelson (“And Then Some”, 1935), Rick Nelson (“Poor Little Fool”, 1958 and “Traveling Man”, 1960) and Rick’s sons Gunnar and Matthew Nelson (recording, under the name Nelson, “Love and Affection”, 1990).
The Nelson family answer works top down and bottom up as the members of the chain are all blood relatives. In the case of Debby Boone’s family, it only works top down. Debby (“You Light Up My Life“, 1977), father Pat Boone (seven #1s from 1955-1961 including “Love Letters In The Sand“) and grandfather Red Foley – no blood relation to Pat Boone but a blood relation of Debby’s (“Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy”, 1950).

Debby Boone may be a direct direct descendant of the American pioneer Daniel Boone. She is distantly related to two stars of American television, Richard Boone (Have Gun, Will Travel, Hec Ramsey) and Randy Boone, (The Virginian and Cimarron Strip).

Enough with the trivia – Debby charted on the country charts thirteen times from 1977-1981 although most of those were pop records that happened to chart country. Starting in 1979 Debby started consciously recording for country markets. “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” reached #11 in early 1979. The next three records did relatively nothing but the first single issued in 1980 “Are You On The Road To Loving Me Again” finally made it to the top. She would chart four more singles before turning to gospel/Christian music.

Larry Boone is best known as a songwriter, having cuts by Kathy Mattea, Don Williams, Tracy Lawrence, Rick Trevino, George Strait, Shenandoah, Marie Osmond and Lonestar. As a singer, he wasn’t terribly distinctive – sort of a George Strait-lite.  Boone charted 14 singles from 1986-93, with only 1988’s “Don’t Give Candy To A Stranger” reaching the Top 10. The other Top 20 singles were “I Just Called To Say Goodbye Again” and a remake of “Wine Me Up” – both of which reached their peak chart positions in 1989.

Dean Dillon charted 20 times from 1979-93, with his biggest hit being “Nobody In His Right Mind (Would’ve Left Her)” which reached #25 in November, 1980. During 1982 and 83, RCA paired Dillon with fading star Gary Stewart, hoping for the kind of magic that was later achieved when Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn were paired together. No real hits came of this collaboration, but the recordings were quite interesting and are available on CD.

Fortunately for Dillon, he is a far better songwriter than singer. His hits as a writer include George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey,” and more than a dozen George Strait Top 10s. In fact, Strait has recorded over 50 of Dillon’s songs, ensuring that the wolf will never again knock at Dean Dillon’s door.

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Album Review – Sweethearts of the Rodeo – ‘Rodeo Waltz’

Much like Patty Loveless’s Sleepless Nights and LeAnn Rimes’s Lady & Gentleman, Rodeo Waltz is an album comprised mainly of classic country covers. Released in 1993, it marked the duo’s debut for Sugar Hill Records. Although it didn’t produce any singles, it offered a simple honky-tonk sound that still holds up well today.

The album opens with a spirited cover of Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm” that benefits from the abundance of petal steel and fiddle flourishes throughout and the distinct drum beat. While they stick moderately close to Cash’s original recording, save for updating the sound, they keep the sing-a-long nature of the song intact.

They continue to honor tradition with the rest of the covers, too. Don Robertson and Hal Blair’s “Please Help Me I’m Falling” is turned into a gorgeous mandolin soaked ballad and their sultry take on Tex Ritter and Frank Harford’s “Long Time Gone” brings a new appreciation to story of a woman anticipating their man’s reaction to their leaving.

Equally as well executed is their take on Gordon Lightfoot’s folksy “Steel Rail Blues” which benefits greatly from the use of harmonica and gently persistent drumbeat. I love how they seem to build on Lightfoot’s original recording by infusing the song with a bit more energy. I also enjoy their folksy almost mountain-y reading of Jesse Winchester’s “Brand New Tennessee Waltz.” It isn’t my favorite of the cover tunes included here but it’s enhanced by the sweet vocal and use of fiddle throughout.

They also do a fine job covering Robbie Robertson’s “Broken Arrow.” Known primarily as a pop song done by Rod Stewart, the sisters exceed in turning it into a country song complete with fiddle and harmonica. I love the melody and the use of mandolin to give the musical accompaniment some life.

Placed among the cover tunes is a crop of original songs, led by Don Shultz’s “Things Grow” which is their ode to life on a farm and small town existence. It isn’t as cringe worthy as that particular sub-genre today, but I’m not jumping up and down at the inclusion of them exploring that theme. Betty Harrison’s “Hoping That You’re Hoping” is better musically, but the song lacks any substance in the lyrics and is forgettable today.

I wasn’t aware they had their own version of “Jenny Dreamed of Trains,” which Janis’s then husband Vince Gill wrote with Guy Clark. Gill did an excellent job when he recorded the song on High Lonesome Sound and they do a stellar version here. The sweet story of the girl Jenny (presumably written about their daughter) and her love of trains over dolls is a great lyric.

“Bluegrass Boy,” written by Gill with Shultz is an engaging love song about a guy this girl once knew and while good, it comes off a tad underwhelming. There’s nothing wrong with the song at all – it just isn’t up to the material on the rest of the project. Same goes for the traditional “Deep River Blues” arranged by Gill. I enjoyed the swampy vibe and touches of harmonica but the whole thing was a tad underwhelming. But the album turns around with the great “There One Morning.”

Rodeo Waltz is a fine country album of both well-chosen covers and original material. I can easily see why there weren’t any singles despite strong material – it just doesn’t have a sound that sits right on radio playlists. But like most non-commercial country projects, it demands to be heard. This album is widely available digitally (from Amazon and iTunes) and is worth seeking out for a listen.

Grade: B+

Occasional Hope’s Top 10 Albums of 2011

2011 wasn’t the best year for country, but there was still some very good music to be found if you looked for it.  Just missing the cut for my personal top 10 were fine records by the excellent Sunny Sweeney, country chart debutant Craig Campbell, independent artist Justin Haigh, blue collar bluegrass newcomer Scott Holstein, the compelling close harmonies of the Gibson Brothers,  and an enjoyable if not groundbreaking live set from Amber Digby which flew under the radar.

So what did make my cut? Read more of this post

Jonathan Pappalardo’s ten favorite country albums of 2011

Who says real country music is dead? Putting aside the commercial successes that forgot about quality, here is my take for music that mattered in 2011. These albums may not have sold a heck of a lot or even garnered the recognition they warranted, but they achived the mark of great music – the songs came first.

10. Concrete – Sunny Sweeney

Led by the top ten “From A Table Away,” Concrete found Sweeney modifying her sound slightly in order to complete with what’s current on country radio. Of course, her version of slightly is different than most as she’s crafted an outstanding traditional country album worthy of her talents. There are too many highlights here to pick a favorite but the honky-tonkin’ “Drink Myself Single” and the revengeful “Amy” are among the years best songs.

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Christmas Rewind: LeAnn Rimes – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’

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

1966: Jimmy Dean – The First Thing Ev’ry Morning (Columbia)

1971: Freddie Hart – Easy Lovin’ (Capitol)

1976: Marty Robbins – El Paso City (Columbia)

1981: Alabama – Feels So Right (RCA)

1986: Steve Earle – Guitar Town (MCA)

1991: Garth Brooks – Ropin’ The Wind (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Reba McEntire – Greatest Hits Volume III: I’m a Survivor (MCA)

2006: Alabama – Songs of Inspiration (RCA)

2011: Toby Keith – Clancy’s Tavern (Show Dog-Universal)

Week ending 10/22/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: Bill Anderson – I Love You Drops (Decca)

1971: Merle Haggard and The Strangers – Hag (Capitol)

1976: Waylon Jennings – Are You Ready For The Country? (RCA)

1981: Ronnie Milsap – There’s No Gettin’ Over Me (RCA)

1986: Randy Travis – Storms Of Life (Warner Brothers)

1991: Garth Brooks – Ropin’ The Wind (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Martina McBride – Greatest Hits (RCA)

2006: George Strait – It Just Comes Natural (MCA)

2011: Scotty McCreery – Clear As Day (Mercury/19/Interscope)

Week ending 10/15/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: Bill Anderson – I Love You Drops (Decca)

1971: Ray Price – I Won’t Mention It Again (Columbia)

1976: Linda Ronstadt – Hasten Down The Wind (Asylum)

1981: Eddie Rabbitt – Step By Step (Warner Brothers)

1986: Randy Travis – Storms Of Life (Warner Brothers)

1991: Garth Brooks – Ropin’ The Wind (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Martina McBride – Greatest Hits (RCA)

2006: Alan Jackson – Like Red On A Rose (Arista)

2011: Lady Antebellum – Own The Night (Capitol)

Album Review: LeAnn Rimes – ‘Lady & Gentlemen’

When LeAnn Rimes made her impressive debut aged just 13, she did so with a vintage song originally written for Patsy Cline. Her career subsequently veered popwards, with LeAnn often not seeming to be certain of her own musical identity. Most recently she has been producing solid pop-country, but her chart career has been overshadowed by a tangled personal life. So I was intrigued to hear that she might be returning to country classics – at least, until I heard the first single. I hated LeAnn’s manically speeded up and overwrought version of John Anderson’s hit ‘Swingin’, and was left gloomy about the album’s likely direction, despite Vince Gill being named as the producer. (He is in fact joined in that task on the bulk of the record by Justin Niebank, Darrell Brown (LeAnn’s regular co-writer) and John Hobbs, with Gill, Brown and Leann responsible for the arrangements). Happily, the end result is much better than I feared it might be, with the awful, misconceived assault on ‘Swingin’ the only track I really dislike.

There are a couple of other tracks which don’t quite work for me: a horn-accompanied and passionately sung ‘16 Tons’ sounds great if you don’t listen to the words, but is completely unconvincing as a working man’s anthem. Her reworking of producer Vince’s great ‘When I Call Your Name’ as a jazz-soul song wanders too far from the original melody and emotion for me, but is very accomplished in its way and will appeal to some.

Freddy Fender’s Tex-Mex ‘Wasted Days And Wasted Nights’ in contrast has a lovely retro, slightly loungy feel, with lovely phrasing and a small section sung in Spanish. I also enjoyed a new, mature version of her own first hit ‘Blue’, featuring Vince Gill’s side band the Time Jumpers. I enjoyed LeAnn’s enthusiastic take on Waylon’s ‘The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line’, given a gender rewrite as ‘The Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line’. The Waylon/Willie hit ‘A Good Hearted Woman’ is speeded up a bit too much, but still quite enjoyable, expressed in the first person. John Conlee’s ‘Rose Colored Glasses’ is well sung but lacks the intensity of emotion of the original, although the production is more tasteful.

There are three outstanding tracks. While she cannot quite match George Jones on the hallowed ground of ‘He Stopped Loving her Today’, she gives a beautifully understated reading which works extremely well, with Vince adding harmony on the chorus. This is the one which best reveals LeAnn’s growth as an interpreter. A measured, emotional version of Haggard’s depiction of being trapped in an unhappy marriage where ‘I Can’t Be Myself’ is superb. LeAnn’s seductive and emotional plea to ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’ is almost as good.

Haggard’s ‘The Bottle Let Me Down’ (one of three afterthoughts produced by LeAnn with Darrell Brown) was a good addition to the tracklist. On first hearing I thought it paled in comparison to both the original and Emmylou Harris’s defiant cover, but over repeated listens, I have grown to appreciate the sense of defeat and regret in LeAnn’s version.

The other two are brand new songs, which have both been tried, and failed, as radio singles. They are out of place here, sounding much more contemporary, and they contradict the original conceit of the album, the idea that these were all “men’s songs” given a new interpretation by LeAnn. The aggressive Miranda Lambert style gender war of ‘Crazy Women’, written by Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally and Jessie Jo Dillon suffers from a cluttered modern production and rather limited melody, while the gentler but still contemporary ‘Give’, written by Jimmy Yeary and Connie Harrington has a well meaning message and is pleasant sounding but a little dull.

Interestingly, this is one of very few modern albums to get a vinyl release alongside CD and digital availability. Sales so far are reportedly low, which is a shame, because this is LeAnn’s best work for some time, and for me it fulfils for the first time the potential she had as a phenomenal teenager. Her vocals are great, and her sometimes muddy diction has also improved.

Grade: A-

Week ending 10/8/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: David Houston – Almost Persuaded (Epic)

1971: Ray Price – I Won’t Mention It Again (Columbia)

1976: Linda Ronstadt – Hasten Down The Wind (Asylum)

1981: Eddie Rabbitt – Step By Step (Warner Brothers)

1986: Janie Fricke – Black and White (CBS)

1991: Garth Brooks – Ropin’ The Wind (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Martina McBride – Greatest Hits (RCA)

2006: Kenny Chesney – Live Those Songs Again (BNA)

2011: Lady Antebellum – Own The Night (Capitol)

Week ending 9/17/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – Carnegie Hall Concert (Capitol)

1971: Lynn Anderson – You’re My Man (Columbia)

1976: Waylon Jennings – Are You Ready For The Country? (RCA)

1981: Oak Ridge Boys – Fancy Free (MCA)

1986: Hank Williams Jr. – Montana Cafe (Warner Brothers)

1991: Garth Brooks – No Fences (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Toby Keith – Pull My Chain (Dreamworks)

2006: Rascal Flatts – Me and My Gang (Lyric Street)

2011: Jake Owen – Barefoot Blue Jean Night (RCA)

Week ending 9/10/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: Buck Owens and His Buckaroos – Carnegie Hall Concert (Capitol)

1971: Lynn Anderson – You’re My Man (Columbia)

1976: Waylon Jennings – Are You Ready For The Country? (RCA)

1981: Kenny Rogers – Share Your Love (Liberty)

1986: Hank Williams Jr. – Montana Cafe (Warner Brothers)

1991: Garth Brooks – No Fences (Capitol)

1996: LeAnn Rimes – Blue (Curb)

2001: Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack (Lost Highway)

2006: Trace Adkins – Dangerous Man (Capitol)

2011: Pistol Annies – Hell On Heels (Columbia)

Single Review: LeAnn Rimes – ‘Give’

Her public image may have been tarnished by scandal in recent years, but LeAnn Rimes hasn’t failed to turn out artistically strong music worthy of heavy rotation status on country radio. And judging by her new single, the hot streak continues.  “Give” hardly breaks any new ground and with a predictable pop-country arrangement sticks close to the musical style that built her career in the mid to late 1990s. The mix of piano with flourishes of steel guitar showcase the power in her voice better than either of the previous singles from her still-unreleased Lady and Gentlemen album.

Musically, this is the LeAnn Rimes the world fell in love with and stands the best chance of turning positive attention her way. She’s a fantastic singer, and the fullness of her abilities is on display here. The production in the chorus may be a little dense, but it adds the power ballad effect she’s after here.

If fans can forgive her personal dramas, “Give” could be her biggest hit in a long, long time. It fits in with the kind of songs country radio is playing right now and would be in good company next to Lady Antebellum’s “Just A Kiss” or anything by Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift.  The only downside to the single is the irony in the story. She’s asking people to forgive, forget, and show a little kindness, which at one point would’ve been inspirational, but now comes off as self-pandering. It’s as though she’s begging us to forgive her, by pleading to us through song.

If the lyrics didn’t mirror her personal life so closely, then it would be easier to separate the two and judge her on artistic merit alone. And if anyone else were singing this song, it would be a slam-dunk. But to hear it from Rimes is to listen to a woman realizing her faults but not quite sure of how to make the proper amends with the audience she’s let down.

Grade: B

Listen here.

Week ending 2/19/11: #1 albums this week in country music history

1966: Eddy Arnold – My World (RCA Victor)

1971: Lynn Anderson – Rose Garden (Columbia)

1976: C.W. McCall – Black Bear Road (MGM)

1981: Dolly Parton – 9 to 5 And Odd Jobs (RCA Victor)

1986: Hank Williams Jr. – Greatest Hits Volume 2 (Curb)

1991: Garth Brooks – No Fences (Capitol)

1996: Shania Twain – The Woman In Me (Mercury)

2001: LeAnn Rimes – I Need You (Curb)

2006: Carrie Underwood – Some Hearts (Arista)

2011: Jason Aldean – My Kinda Party (Broken Bow)