My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Wild Rose

Album Review: Lee Greenwood – ‘A Perfect 10’

The winds of change swept through country music in the late 1980s, with younger stars reviving more traditional sounds. Lee Greenwood’s singles were getting less radio play than they had earlier in the decade, and he must have realised that if he wanted to stay relevant he needed to make some changes. In 1990 he moved from his longstanding label MCA to Capitol, and for his second album for that label (then using the Liberty name), in 1991, he released a duet album with ten female vocalists. They were mainly newcomers the label wanted to promote with a few of Lee’s contemporaries.

The only single was ‘Hopelessly Yours’, a duet with Suzy Bogguss, who was about to make her breakthrough. It peaked at #12 but deserved better, as it is a beautiful song written by the great Keith Whitley and Curly Putnam with hitmaker Don Cook, sung by both vocalists with a wistful tenderness, and tastefully produced with some lovely steel guitar.

One of the label’s biggest stars at the time was Tanya Tucker. ‘We’re Both To Blame’ is a traditional sounding waltz about a couple whose marriage is breaking down – another really lovely track.

All-female bluegrass-country group Wild Rose collaborate on the vibrant up-tempo ‘The Will To Love’, which I enjoyed a great deal.

Karen Staley was better known as a songwriter, but released a couple of excellent albums herself in the 90s. I don’t believe she was ever formally signed to Liberty or Capitol (she certainly didn’t release anything for them), but label boss Jimmy Bowen had produced her 1989 MCA album Wildest Dreams. She has an distinctive and unusually deep voice for a woman, and almost overpowers Greenwood on the brassy ‘I’m Not Missin’ Anything’. Cee Cee Chapman, a Curb artist with another deep alto voice, has a boring song for her duet with Lee, ‘You’re Not Alone’.

Carol Chase has an excellent voice and is well matched to Lee on the enjoyable mid-paced pop-country ‘Looking At A Sure Thing’. ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ is a cover of an R&B classic sung with Donna McElroy, who has provided backing vocals on many country records but is predominantly a gospel singer herself. This version of the song pays not the slightest attempt to sound country, but is pleasant enough listening in its own vein, with a strong soulful vocal from McElroy.

Of the older artists, Lacy J Dalton is wasted on ‘From Now On’, a nice enough but bland MOR ballad which just does not showcase her. Previous duet partner Barbara Mandrell joins Lee for ‘I’d Give Anything’, another dull ballad. Marie Osmond’s pristine vocal on ‘It Wasn’t Love Before’ has phrasing from musical theater.

This is generally a fairly strong album with something for everyone.

Grade: B+

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Album Review: Teea Goans – ‘Swing, Shuffle And Sway’

Continuing our catch-up of some of the great 2017 albums we didn’t get round to reviewing, the fourth album released by modern traditionalist and Opry favourite Teea Goans may be her best yet. Teea has an excellent clear, sweet voice, with strong emotional interpretative skills.

Much of the material consists of covers, but Teea avoids ground which is too well worn. One of the best known songs is a lovely cover of the Don Gibson-penned Ronnie Milsap classic ‘(I’d Be) A Legend In My Time’, which has a stunning vocal and classy arrangement led by steel guitar with some tasteful strings added in. Country standard ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is a perfect fit for Teea.

Teea’s version of the opener ‘Go Down Swingin’’ (originally a minor hit for the all-girl group Wild Rose in 1990) is on the jazzier side of western swing with a bit of scatting thrown in at the start. ‘Steel Guitar Rag’ is an old Bob Wills tune which Tees performs vivaciously.

Previously cut by Ray Price (one of Teea’s primary influences) and Gene Watson, ‘A Way To Survive’ is a great traditional country shuffle, with some lovely fiddle and steel. ‘Heart Over Mind’ is a fine Mel Tllis song which was a hit for him in 1970.

She recruits 90s star Mark Wills as her duet partner on a charmingly playful take on ‘It Ain’t Nothin’’, which completely reinvents the Keith Whitley hit. A mid-tempo Don Williams hit from the 1980s, ‘That’s The Thing About Love’ is more adult contemporary than country, but well sung. ‘Tell Me I’m Crazy’ is a ballad which was recorded in the 90s by both Dawn Sears and Shelby Lynne. Teea’s version has an innocent sweetness belying the desperation of the lyrics.

‘Just Because She Always Has’ is a delicately sung ballad offering a gentle warning to a neglectful but complacent husband that things might be about to change. This beautiful song may be my favorite track.

Churchy piano leads into the confident handclapping gospel of ‘I Know The Lord Will Stand By Me’. In a more contemporary style is the emotional ballad ‘Mercy walked In’.

This is an excellent album which I strongly recommend.

Grade: A+

Album Review: Terri Clark – ‘Just The Same’

Terri’s second album, released in 1996, followed along broadly the same pattern as her debut, balancing high-energy radio friendly entertainment with traditional roots. She co-wrote most of the material, most often alongside the established songwriting team of Chris Waters and Tom Shapiro, and the quality is consistently high. Waters also co-produced with Terri and Keith Stegall.

The first single was, however, actually a cover of the Warren Zevon song/Linda Ronstadt 70s hit ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me’. Terri’s vibrant version (belying the dark lyrics) peaked at #5 on Billboard and #1 in Canada. The equally lively up-tempo Emotional Girl’ (written with Rick Bowles and Chris Waters) was another Canadian #1 and US top 10 hit. The title track and third single is a gorgeous mellow love ballad with a little more of an AC feel and a subtle string arrangement, which allowed Terri to show off her vocals, but radio was less receptive to Terri’s ballads than to her up-tempo numbers, and this peaked disappointingly low at #16.

The twangy ‘Something In The Water’ was the last single, but while it has a good groove and attacking vocal, it is not particularly memorable, and only just squeaked into the top 40. Equally twangy, but more memorable, is the ironic salute to an old ‘Neon Flame’ (written by Terri and Chris Waters with Chuck Jones), and perhaps this would have been a better single choice. I really like the catchy and uncompromising ‘You Do Or You Don’t’ (one of the few outside songs, written by Bob DiPiero and Karen Staley), and this too would have made a great choice as a single. Terri’s love interest isn’t quite committed to her, and she sets out an ultimatum, telling him firmly he either loves her, or he doesn’t:

Love ain’t followed by a question mark…
We’re not talkin’ brain surgery

The other song not written by Terri is the amped-up bluegrass of ‘Hold Your Horses’, a revival of a song written by Carl Jackson and Pam Gadd for the latter’s former band Wild Rose. ‘Twang Thang’ keeps up the energy levels, but is rather noveltyish. The mid-tempo ‘Not What I Wanted To Hear’ has a rueful admission to herself that the guy isn’t going to call.

My favorite song here is Terri’s solo composition ‘Keeper Of The Flame’, with its beautiful melody, excellent vocal, and downbeat lyric about a neglected wife desperately holding on to hope that things will somehow go back to the way things were:

I am the keeper of the flame
You only helped my build the fire
And it’s getting harder every day
To make our love burn with desire
Cause if I left it up to you
Only ashes would remain

Another outstanding ballad is ‘Any Woman’, where Terri gives us a sympathetic portrait of a woman’s heartbreak, suffered in silence:

Night can be so cold when a memory’s all you hold
Yeah, I know what she’s going through tonight
Any woman who’s been hurt by a man understands
It’ll take some time for her to find a way to love again

There is another great vocal here, balancing sympathetic advice to a man interested in the heartbreak victim, and sisterly empathy with the woman.

Just The Same has been certified platinum in the US and double platinum in Canada.  This is an excellent record, full of fine material delivered with commitment.

Grade: A

It’s still easy to find, both digitally and on CD, with used copies being extremely cheap.

Classic Rewind: Wild Rose – ‘Listen To Your Heart’

Album Review: Pam Gadd – ‘Benefit Of Doubt’

pamgadd1I like a little bluegrass mixed in with the straight country in my musical diet, and I was pleased to hear that Pam Gadd was releasing another album.  I first came across Pam back in 1990, when she was the more prominent of the two lead singers of Wild Rose, a bluegrass-infused all-female country band who released three albums on Universal and Capitol Records, and received a Grammy instrumental nomination.  She is not as productive as some artists, having recorded just two previous solo efforts, the excellent The Road Home on Vanguard in 1997, and the not-quite-as-good The Time Of Our Lives in 2001.  Musically, Pam falls in the hinterland where acoustic country overlaps with bluegrass.  Her voice is strong and distinctive with characterful inflections.

Although there are no instrumental tracks, there is some excellent acoustic playing throughout, which complements the material rather than overwhelming it.  Pam herself plays banjo, joined by former Wild Rose bandmate Wanda Vick on dobro, Vick’s husband Mark Burchfield on bass (except on ‘Farewell Wagon Master’), Bryan Sutton on guitar, Andy Leftwich on fiddle and mandolin, and Aubrey Haynie on mandolin.

The tone for the album is set with the opening track, a lively and beautifully played cover of bluegrass great Jimmy Martin’s ‘Hold Whatcha Got’, a song which will be more familiar to country fans as the song which lent the title to Ricky Skaggs’s late 80s album Comin’ Home To Stay.

Pam refers back to previous aspects of her career in a number of ways on Benefit Of Doubt.  The harmony singers include Dale Ann Bradley, with whom Pam worked in the New Coon Creek Girls, another all-female group, but this time a straight bluegrass one.  Wild Rose’s drummer Nancy Given Gardner, also sings harmony co-produces the album with Pam, although she only plays tambourine on one track (‘Applejack’), as there is no room for drums on the record.  Two of the songs Wild Rose recorded are given a new lease of life, namely ‘Home Sweet Highway’, which was one of the group’s better songs, and ‘Hit The Highway’.  I’m not a big fan of repeating songs previously recorded by the same artist, but reviving two songs after 20 years, on an album with 14 tracks is not unacceptable.  Another song, ‘Wrong Wrong Wrong’, was apparently recorded by the group but never released; it’s a catchy, medium-up-tempo number with a funky feel, which would have suited the Wild Rose vibe.

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