Manufacturer: Rhino Records
"Your stuff is so hard, they're gonna think it's rock 'n' roll," a friend once told Dwight Yoakam. Twisting strains of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, and Gram Parsons into a stripped-down sound wholly his own, Yoakam is one of music's true mavericks, and his body of work is one of the most innovative in all of country. Rooted in the purest country traditions, and wrapped in raw rock 'n' roll attitude, Yoakam's art rivets fans of both genres and remains as utterly original today as when it started burning up the charts in the '80s. Moving to Los Angeles after an unproductive stint in Nashville, Kentucky-born Dwight Yoakam made a name for himself by reviving the more robust honky-tonk traditions of the Bakersfield Sound--a bold contrast with Music City's assembly-line approach. In 1984, his independently released six-song EP, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., added to the buzz and helped land him on Warner Bros./Reprise. Now, twenty years later comes The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam, a superb single-disc distillation of the four-CD box, Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years. With 20 tracks spanning his recording career and sequenced in chronological order, the set rolls along with gusto and verve. While not covering every one of his releases (the Christmas and covers releases are omitted, for example), there are some singles and soundtrack entries that fall nicely into place. --David Greenberger
Manufacturer: DreamWorks Nashville
Brand: Umgd/Dream Works Records
NEW Combo BLUWAVS CD and FLAC FILE A former oil field worker, Toby Keith has always known how to capture the passions of blue-collar men and women, desperate to blow off steam at the end of the day. As such, heâ€™s stocked his latest album with themes designed to push all the right emotional buttons--patriotism, Jesus, buddy love, fast women, and reality altering substances. "I Love This Bar," the first single, offers a kinder, gentler Keith than the boot-shoving redneck of "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)." But as he segues to "American Soldier," a song so gung-ho and puffed up that it could be a musical recruitment poster, you know heâ€™s gearing up for a scud missile of a payoff. Sure enough. By the time he gets to "The Taliban Song," a comedic and cartoonish skewering of The Enemy, recorded in concert, itâ€™s hard to remember that he once wrote well-crafted ballads of romantic infatuation. Now itâ€™s all grandstanding, baby, even the best-written song, a jazzy, talking blues which fillets his critics. If heâ€™s not exactly "Shockâ€™n Yâ€™All" as the title suggests, heâ€™s certainly putting his "Baddest Boots" forward. --Alanna Nash
Loretta Lynn "Van Lear Rose" Produced and Arranged by Jack White of the White Stripes Garage-rock hero Jack White producing honky-tonk legend Loretta Lynn? And Lynn comparing him to renowned Nashville producer Owen Bradley? Yes, we all know the world is rapidly shrinking, but now we've seen everything. Most stunning of all--they nailed it. For the first time, Lynn has written all of an album's songs, and her lyrics are as cutting and incisive as ever. On the powerful, biting "Family Tree," she brings her babies to the home of her husband's mistress so that they can see the "woman that's burning down our family tree." Throughout she cunningly tackles tried-and-true honky-tonk themes of love gone bad, drinkin', cheatin', and murder. Lynn even offers a compelling slice of theological fatalism ("God Makes No Mistakes"). White's production--mostly stark and atmospheric--ranges from more-traditional country to straight-up White Stripes, with most tracks falling somewhere in between. White duets with Lynn on the rousing one-night-stand story "Portland, Oregon," but he does not need to sing to leave his personal stamp. At 70, Lynn seems thoroughly engaged and delighted; at times she delivers some of the most emotionally potent singing of her career. A decade earlier, Johnny Cash turned to rock and rap producer Rick Rubin, and the move resuscitated Cash's career. Now, Jack White has done the same for Loretta Lynn, another country legend whose music is simply too raw and honest for the contemporary country crowd. Van Lear Rose exceeds all expectations--a bold collaboration in which artists from two different musical universes forge a memorable work that neither could have created alone. --Marc Greilsamer
Manufacturer: Artist First
Brand: Lewis, Jerry Lee
Jerry Lee Lewis is an American rock 'n' roll and country music icon - a singer, songwriter, and pianist who's been amazing his audiences with his piano pyrotechnics for half a century. Lewis has never stopped touring, and he still delivers explosive concerts that are unpredictable, exciting, and personal. Following the critically acclaimed release of Last Man Standing in the fall of 2006, Lewis gathered with friends and family to perform at a series of private shows in New York and Los Angeles that were filmed for this DVD. Rock 'n' roll, soul, and country music legends gathered from the world 'round to show their admiration for one of the great original song stylists of all time. Last Man Standing Live is an intimate and unprecedented event in music history. Don't miss it! It's called Last Man Standing, an apt-enough description when you consider that so many of his peers, like Sun Records mentor Sam Phillips and "Million Dollar Quartet" partners Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins, are six feet under. But Jerry Lee Lewis doesn't spend a lot of time on his feet during any portion of this two-hour show, the visual complement to his 2006 CD Last Man Standing: The Duets. Truth is, at 71, the Ferriday (Louisiana) Fireball is fairly rickety; sitting almost immobile at the keyboard, he's a far cry from the rock & roll firebrand who'd leap to his feet, kick away his piano stool, and wail, his golden locks flying. So this meeting between Lewis and about a dozen singing partners, ranging from fellow veterans (Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard) to relative youngsters (Chris Isaak, Norah Jones, Kid Rock), would have been more exciting had it happened, say, 10 years ago. It's still pretty cool. Lewis' piano chops are strong; his singing, while obviously weaker than in his heyday, ain't half bad either; he's got a great band, including guitarists Nils Lofgren and Rolling Stone Ron Wood and drummer Jim Keltner; and both he and his guests (not to mention the studio audience) are having a hellaci...
Manufacturer: Shangri-La Music
Brand: Shangri-La Music
Twenty-two rock and country legends duet with Jerry Lee Lewis on this incredible package, celebrating The Killer's impact on American music. Among the luminaries igniting these all-new recordings of seminal rock 'n' roll are Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Little Richard, Merle Haggard, Neil Young, and more. How do you drum up interest in a Jerry Lee Lewis record, since the Ferriday Fireball is 71 and hasn't put out an album since 1996? First, you pair him with 22 of the biggest stars of rock (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards), country (Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard), and blues (Buddy Guy, B.B. King), to show how he put his stamp on nearly every genre. Then, you hire the dean of music chroniclers, Peter Guralnick, to give the liner notes heft. And--oh, yes, you also make sure the piano-pounding pioneer displays the best finger form he's shown in 25 years. Throughout, the Killer crows, struts, and self-mythologizes with the brio of youth, and who could resist him? At times, one may question the wisdom of turning an obvious guitar tune (Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll") into a piano-dominated performance, just as it seems odd to not make the best use of such guests as Toby Keith or Delaney Bramlett. But Lewis never yields the throne for a second, even surrounded by the likes of Robbie Robertson, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton. For that reason, most of these aren't true duets--the star instrumentalists take their solos, and the harmonies of some of the most legendary vocalists (Don Henley, Little Richard) stay too far in the background. But when things really work--as they do with Bruce Springsteen (the rave-up "Pink Cadillac"), Neil Young (a crackling rendition of "You Don't Have To Go"), Kid Rock (an even blacker "Honky Tonk Woman"), George Jones (the novelty-framed "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age"), and Kris Kristofferson (an especially poignant take on "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"), the rock of ages cleaves for thee and me. Last Man Standing refers to the famous cover of Million ...
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Reissue of the mid-'70s outlaw country classic featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser, with original artwork, liner notes (from Chet Flippo) and nine "lost" tracks! Less successful when it's sentimental (Waylon Jennings' "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys") than when it's wry (Willie Nelson's myth-puncturing "Me and Paul"), this cash-in compilation of previously released cuts was just in time to grab the first platinum record ever awarded a country album. It's not bad, but both Jennings' contemporaneous Dreaming My Dreams and Nelson's Red Headed Stranger are more nuanced tastes of the good-bad-but-not-evil-ol'-boy lifestyle. (Not to mention much of Tompall Glaser's own Outlaw compilation.) This 1996 CD reissue adds nine more tracks from the era as well as a new Jennings-and-Nelson version of Steve Earle's "Nowhere Road." --Rickey Wright
In an unmatched outpouring of virtuosity and energy, Vince Gill has created a 4-CD set of 43 new and original songs that MCA Records will release Oct. 17 under the title These Days. The collection is an artistic tour de force that displays Gill's mastery of lyrics and musical styles, ranging from traditional country and bluegrass to jazz and rock. To accompany him on this ambitious undertaking, Gill turned both to artists he knew and had worked with before and to those whose music he admired at a distance. "I never try to fill up my records with famous people," Gill says. "I try to fill them up with the most talented people I can find on the face of the earth." By the time the project was completed, that group included Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Diana Krall, Rodney Crowell, Phil Everly, the Del McCoury Band, Emmylou Harris, John Anderson, Lee Ann Womack, Jenny Gill, Amy Grant, LeAnn Rimes, Gretchen Wilson, Guy Clark, Trisha Yearwood, Bekka Bramlett, Michael McDonald, steel-guitar master Buddy Emmons and many other musical standouts. These new recordings of mostly recent Gill compositions are the culmination of a project aimed at recording four distinct albums: rock, romance, vintage honky-tonk, and acoustic. The Rockin' Record, virtually perfect from start to finish, begins with "Workin' on a Big Chill," its swampy groove straight out of John Fogerty and a showcase for Gill's guitar virtuosity--a groove he resumes on "Cowboy Up," with cameo harmonies from Gretchen Wilson. "Sweet Thing" and a duet with Rodney Crowell on "Nothin' for a Broken Heart" pulsate with Chuck Berry intensity that contrasts with the solid, '60s Memphis groove of "Bet It All on You." The Reason Why showcases Gill's legendary ease with ballads, several of them enhanced by creative string arrangements by David Campbell (Beck's father), including "What You Don't Say" with LeAnn Rimes and "The Memory of You" with Trisha Yearwood. The stunning "Faint of Heart," a remarkably sultry jazz duet with Diana Krall, could become a standard. Some Things ...
We don't know how it's possible, but this is the first time a single-disc Roger Miller compilation has ever been put together! So many classics here: his Top 10 pop hits King of the Road and Dang Me ; his country smashes Chug-A-Lug; Engine Engine #9; England Swings; South; River in the Rain (last two from his musical Big River ), and 13 more!
There have been many highly successful duet partnerships in the history of country music. But no other coupling as lasting or has made the same impact as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Having met in the mid 1950's on various package tours, Johnny and June had a tumultuous courtships that yielded the greatest of all country marriages. Partners in life and in song, Johnny and June had some of the best duets like "Jackson" and "It Ain't Me Babe," collected here for the first time.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
NEW Combo BLUWAVS CD and FLAC FILE Her mother was 16 when she had her, and her father moved on when she was two. By the age of 15, with a double-barrel shotgun always at the ready, she was managing a kicker bar in rural Illinois where the corn fields meet the pig farms. That gave Gretchen Wilson something to sing about, with attitude in spades. "You might think I'm trashy, a little too hardcore," she admits on the smash single "Redneck Woman," "but in my neck of the woods I'm just the girl next door." Wilson, already the toast of Nashville before this full-length debut hit the shelves, isn't just putting the trailer park back into country music--she's the antidote to Shania and Faith. Nothing here sounds manufactured or studied, and the best songs are those she wrote. If most of those spotlight the fightin' side that has made "Redneck Woman" an anthem with blue-collar babes, she lets her vulnerability show on her choice of covers, particularly Leslie Satcher's gospel-rap of "Chariot" and the marital weeper "The Bed." Whatever you think of Wilson, who packs a hint of Sammi Smith and Allison Moorer--and even Janis Joplin--into her double-fisted delivery, you won't forget her. Move over, Loretta. Make way, Tanya. Here's another good ol' honky-tonk girl. --Alanna Nash