Tracy Byrd’s Greatest Hits.
Greatest Hits – Tracy Byrd
He really is just a nice, good ol’ boy from East Texas. But Tracy Byrd – aka “T-Byrd,” aka platinum-selling country star – knows how to record and perform, two traits that keep him a reliable favorite in country music circles. His introduction in the early ’90s allowed him to ride the wave of modern country music ushered in by Garth Brooks, Clint Black and others. But unlike Garth and Clint, Tracy’s on the radio with new music in 2005.
Tracy’s initial hits were for MCA Records, and in 1999 he segued to RCA. Greatest Hits is released by RCA, so it naturally contains Byrd’s hits from the past few years, including “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo,” “Just Let Me Be in Love” and “The Truth About Men.” These dozen dandies will certainly be a welcome addition to anyone’s big rig. A
Be As You Are – Kenny Chesney
“This album goes out to anyone who lives their life in flip-flops or who wishes that they could,” writes Kenny Chesney in the liner notes. The Tennessean has perfected the Caribbean-country sound in the last few years, and this CD is no different.
Chesney’s fans – and there are millions of them, according to Soundscan charts and concert attendance figures – will savor an album that provides a glimpse into the quasi-private life the singer leads in the British Virgin Islands when he’s not on tour. He wrote or co-wrote these dozen songs. “Old Blue Chair” is dynamic, while “Key Lime Pie” is a well-written thinker. Put on the suntan oil for this album; it’s a hot one. A-
Songs – Willie Nelson
OK, there seems to be a new Willie Nelson album coming out by somebody just about every day. But this fresh Willie retrospective offers 20 of the legend’s greatest tracks on one CD – that’s right, one.
In 2004, the 71-year-old American classic had four new albums reach the Top 30 of the country chart. Songs is following the same path. It includes his 1961 demo for “Crazy” and his first Top 10, “Touch Me.”
A large number of the songs are duets Willie had through the years, including “Pancho and Lefty” (with Merle Haggard) and “Just to Satisfy You” (with Waylon Jennings). B-
Freewheeler – David Ball
For decades, David Ball played upright bass and was part of an edgy, left-field-playing trio called Uncle Walt’s Band. He hit Nashville solo in the late 1980s, and juggled lovely ballads and sprightly western swing-influenced honky-tonk stuff. In 1994, his “Thinkin’ Problem” rose to the top of the charts. Just last year he had his second smash hit, “Riding with Private Malone.”
Today, Ball’s on an independent label, given up for dead by the big music corporations. Freewheeler includes the Cajun-inflected stomp of “Louisiana Melody” and the ballad, “A Girl I Used to Know.” The rocking “Too Much Blood in My Alcohol Level” is destined for greatness. Fill the glass up to the top! B+
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