Julie Roberts – Julie Roberts
The folks at Mercury Records are putting all the chips on the table for South Carolina belle Julie Roberts, a former secretary for Mercury chief Luke Lewis. Her career is now a reality show on CMT, with cameras following her around as she does radio interviews, visits an imaging consultant, talks with her sweet, supportive mother about making it in the music business and takes a tour bus back to her hometown of Lancaster. But is she good enough?
This 11-song debut is average. The first single, “Break Down Here,” is OK but nothing stellar. “I Can Get Over You,” a remake of a Julie Miller song, is cool. “Pot of Gold” is another song to keep an ear on. Roberts makes for a nice TV show, but her CD might make you long to switch the channel. C
42 Ultimate Hits – Kenny Rogers
This two-disc retrospective is the first collection, other than the box set Through the Years, to contain recordings from each of Kenny’s labels since he first hit the charts in the ’60s.
Five recordings by Rogers with First Edition lead off the first disc, including “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and “Reuben James.” Rogers’ early solo hits like “Lucille,” “The Gambler,” “Coward of the County,” “Lady” and “Love Will Turn You Around” were strong representatives of crossover country during the Urban Cowboy era. Duets pairing “The Gambler” with diverse artists like Kim Carnes (“Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer”) and Sheena Easton (“We’ve Got Tonight”) are fantastic. Kenny’s ’80’s hits are here, as well as the recent smashes “The Greatest” and the no. 1 hit “Buy Me a Rose” for his own Dreamcatcher label. A+
Tryin’ To Get There – David Lee Murphy
Hard to believe, but it’s been seven years since David Lee Murphy’s last CD release. But his latest makes it seem as if he never left. Murphy’s good-time music, like “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle,” is timeless, and it’s great to see DLM back on the scene.
The comeback hit, “Loco,” is a throwback to Murphy’s hits of the mid-’90s. “I Like it Already” is a perfect song to get things moving. The ballads “Inspiration” and “It Might Be Me” are notable. He co-wrote the title track with the late Waylon Jennings. Like the wine in that dusty bottle from his classic hit, David Lee has only gotten better with time. B+
America Will Always Stand – Various Artists
The South has never really gotten over the War Between the States, aka the Civil War.
Although the nation’s bloodiest war transpired 140 years ago, battles – serious and comical alike – still rage between Yanks and Southerners. Time-Life is doing its part to keep the cannons booming with this all-star 14-track collection of country greats singing original war-themed songs.
Darryl Worley grew up within earshot of Shiloh National Military Park. His tune, “Shiloh,” is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to the Tennessee site and the enormous 1862 fight that claimed more than 23,000 casualties. Randy Travis’ title track is awesome, as well as Ricky Skaggs’ “Charlie & Johnny Reb.” Other performers include Lee Ann Womack, Collin Raye and “Long Black Train” newcomer Josh Turner. B-