Music reviews

| November 30, 2006

Geared Up and Hammered Down – Tommy Tunes
Geared Up and Hammered Down is the first kids’ music CD to focus on trucks and trucking songs. It’s “The Ultimate Diesel Powered Adventure,” as the record label proclaims. This CD has an accompanying cartoon, which features big rigs as the stars, including “Tommy Truck,” a fearless domesticated independent-thinking 18-wheeler.

“Little Lennie” is the driver of “Tommy Truck,” and this whiz kid driver never leaves home without his dog Bootsie riding shotgun. “Finally,” Track 16 of this 18-track compilation, features “Little Lennie” at his best. Mixed in with the tunes is dialogue from the Tommy’s World cast of characters. “Yardstick 309,” reminiscent of a classic trucking song, and “Trucks Go Everywhere,” are definitely worth sharing with the kids. For more, log on to this site. A


Different Things – Tracy Byrd
East Texas good guy Tracy Byrd is declaring his independence with the release of Different Things. For the first time the veteran singer is putting an album out on an independent label and distributing it independently, too. “We had more control doing it this way, and even though it’s a little more work, there’s also a little more payback if things go well,” says Byrd, who has 13 Top Ten singles in his arsenal of hits, including “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo” and “The Keeper of the Stars.”

“The More I Feel Like Rockin’” is without a doubt the best track on the CD. It’s a fun, upbeat look at aging. “Cheapest Motel” is a country classic-to-be, with lyrics like “The cheapest motel in town cost him everything.” This track’s not a hard one to figure out. Bob Wills would get a kick out of “The Biggest Thing in Texas,” which is a definite swinger. TByrd is soaring freely with this new record! A-


It Just Comes Natural – George Strait
The fall of each year means the leaves are changing, footballs are flying in the air, and George Strait has released another album – just in time to stuff a Christmas stocking. On this 2006 edition, the Texas hunk scooted to Key West, Fla., to record in Jimmy Buffett’s Shrimpboat Studio. “I thought it might be a good idea to try something different,” says Strait.

The problem with this album is that Strait and producer Tony Brown must have been thinking more about fishing or hitting the beach while in Key West. Most of the 15 songs are average at best. Luckily, there are two treasures found here, the title track and “Better Rain.” Also worth mentioning is the album’s first single, “Give It Away,” which became “King George’s” 53rd No. 1 single. This year marks George’s 25th anniversary as a recording artist, and he’ll be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during the year of festivities. Maybe he’ll do a better job recording during this Year of George. C


Small Town Girl – Kellie Pickler
A self-diagnosed shoe addict, BNA Records artist and American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler strolled to radio with her hit debut single, “Red High Heels.” And as co-writer on the song, being able to talk about it is good therapy. Now the North Carolinian can buy a lot more shoes.

Recording the debut album in between American Idol’s Live! Tour 2006, Pickler, 20, and producer Blake Chancey (Dixie Chicks) put the final touches on the music. One of Pickler’s favorite memories came during the first session. “This guy walks in the door, and I looked over my shoulder and quickly took a second look. I was so excited when I realized who it was

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