Content tagged 'Country'
Always & Forever (Album of the Day)
Randy Travis' debut took the country world by storm, and a year later he very nearly topped it with ALWAYS & FOREVER. The 1987 Warner Bros. set boasted strong songs across the board, and “Too Gone Too Long,” “I Won't Need You Anymore (Always and Forever),” “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “I Told You So” each topped the Billboard Country chart. Travis' sturdy baritone is remarkably pliant; he wrings every drop of emotion from these ten tracks, and Nashville production gloss is kept to a minimum. An album of undeniable quality, ALWAYS & FOREVER helped country music cross over to a mainstream audience, and we'll cue it up again now to wish Randy Travis a happy birthday.
The Ballad of Sally Rose (Album of the Day)
For years, Emmylou Harris used “Sally Rose” as an alias on tour, so when she started writing songs about a singer whose lover and mentor - a hard-living, hard-drinking musician - is killed while on the road, the name was a natural fit. Based loosely on her time with influential singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, 1985's THE BALLAD OF SALLY ROSE was Harris' first self-composed album and remains one of her favorites. Highlights include the singles “White Line” (which reached #14 on the country charts) and “Rhythm Guitar” with Waylon Jennings on lead guitar. In addition, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt sing harmony throughout the album. Now available from Rhino, a two-disc Expanded Edition of THE BALLAD OF SALLY ROSE features a newly remastered version of the original along with unreleased demo recordings for 10 tracks, most of which feature the stripped-back intimacy of Harris alone on acoustic guitar.
Wild Streak (Album of the Day)
Though he qualifies as country music royalty, Hank Williams Jr. refused to be shackled by tradition on WILD STREAK. Released 30 years ago today, the Warner Bros. collection displays a strong rock influence, with a boisterous spirit that will be familiar to Hank Jr. concert fans; nowhere is this more apparent than on the cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Tuesday's Gone” that closes the album (and features Gary Rossington on guitar). Williams also came up with some tasty southern rock originals, including singles “Early in the Morning and Late at Night” and “If the South Woulda Won,” which ranks among Bocephus' best. A gold-certified Billboard Country chart-topper, WILD STREAK has enough energy and assurance to rouse the rebel in any listener.
Wide Swing Tremolo (Album of the Day)
Following the break-up of Americana standard-bearers Uncle Tupelo, singer-songwriter Jay Farrar and drummer Mike Heidorn recruited brothers Dave and Jim Boquist to form a new group – Son Volt – and signed to Warner Bros. The band's third collection for the label, WIDE SWING TREMOLO, finds them leaning more toward the alternative side of alt-country, with energetic guitar rockers like “Straightface” and “Medicine Hat” practically jumping out of the speakers, even if Farrar's enigmatic lyrics sometimes provide dark undercurrents. WIDE SWING TREMOLO was the final studio album from Son Volt's original line-up, and we'll crank it up now to celebrate the set's 20th anniversary.
Keep on Rockin' (Album of the Day)
KEEP ON ROCKIN' was the fourth album from country-rock hitmakers Confederate Railroad, and its music lives up to its title. The 1998 collection was also the band's last for Atlantic Records, and it's a fiery finale, with such tracks as “Cowboy Cadillac,” the comedic “The Big One” and a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Simple Man” among the standouts. The Atlanta sextet sing and play their hearts out here, and are joined by several friends, including Steve Earle and Charlie Daniels on “Good Ol' Boy (Gettin' Tough).” As KEEP ON ROCKIN' celebrates its 20th anniversary, we'll tip our hat to the still-active Confederate Railroad.
To Bonnie From Delaney (Mono) (Album of the Day)
Husband-and-wife team Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett had a decade in the music trenches and a pair of albums under their belts when they signed to Atlantic Records in 1970, Their first studio set for the label, TO BONNIE FROM DELANEY, captures the pair's blend of rock, soul and country at its peak, and became their highest charting album. The collection's dozen tracks include minor hits “Soul Shake” and “Free the People,” though such Delaney originals as “Hard Luck and Troubles” and Bonnie's powerhouse performance of “The Love of My Man” are just as distinctive. The musician friends who accompanied the Bramletts on their early albums and tours are the stuff of legend, and the luminaries heard on this set include Little Richard, Duane Allman, King Curtis, and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow. Bonnie Bramlett celebrates a birthday today, and we'll wish her a happy one with the superb TO BONNIE FROM DELANEY.
Kickin it Up (Album of the Day)
Country hitmaker John Michael Montgomery kicked his career up a notch with his second album, KICKIN' IT UP; the 1994 collection went quadruple-platinum, besting its predecessor by a million sales or so. Its ten tracks include four Country Top 10s: “Be My Baby Tonight,” “Rope the Moon,” “If You've Got Love” and “I Swear,” which became a pop chart-topper by vocal group All-4-One a year later. Balancing heartfelt ballads with more energetic country-rock, the album has something for everyone, and quickly shot to the top of the Billboard 200. KICKIN' IT UP celebrates its 25th anniversary today, and while John Michael Montgomery's domination of the charts wouldn't end with the set, it remains among the Kentucky native's very best.
Americana (Album of the Day)
Born Claude Russell Bridges in Lawton, Oklahoma, on this day in 1942, Leon Russell mastered virtually every style of American popular music in his 60-year career, so it's fitting that his 1978 album bears the title AMERICANA. Released on Russell's own Paradise Records imprint, the self-produced set shows the singer-songwriter having plenty of fun with country and bluegrass, offering a non-traditional take on the genre in which Kim Fowley (who co-wrote most of these songs) and Chicago's horn section can peacefully coexist. “Elvis and Marilyn,” “Ladies Of The Night” and a fine cover of “When A Man Loves A Woman” are just a few of the highlights here, and AMERICANA presents the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in peak form.
Shotgun Willie (Album of the Day)
After RCA threw their hands up with him, Willie Nelson headed to Austin, TX, grew his hair out and started to make music far removed from the constraints of the Nashville hitmaking machinery. The album that emerged, 1973's SHOTGUN WILLIE, was one of the opening salvos in the outlaw country movement, broadening the traditions of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizell to include singer-songwriter individuality. Nelson proves an engaging storyteller on originals like the title track, and he makes covers of songs like “Whiskey River” and “Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” definitive with his masterful phrasing. Finding common ground between hillbillies and hippies, SHOTGUN WILLIE is expertly played, touched with humor and filled with inventive stylistic turns. Willie Nelson celebrates a birthday today, and we'll fire off a salute to the legendary performer with this breakthrough album!
Homemade Ice-Cream (Album of the Day)
Born in Louisiana on this day in 1943, Tony Joe White came to prominence at the end of the 1960s with “Polk Salad Annie” and such artists as Elvis Presley and Brook Benton covering his work. A singer, songwriter and guitarist of the first order, Tony Joe's own performing career brought him to Warner Bros., and HOMEMADE ICE CREAM was his third and final studio album for the label. The 1973 collection, co-producer by Atlantic Records' Tom Dowd, brought acoustic textures to White's soulful Southern-fried rock. Cut with a small backing group, the 11 originals here have a wonderful back porch intimacy, and such songs as “Saturday Night In Oak Grove, Louisiana,” single “Backwoods Preacher Man” and “Did Somebody Make a Fool out of You” go down as easy as the set's titular treat. In honor of the Swamp Fox's birthday, we're serving up HOMEMADE ICE-CREAM.