Bringing the Music Back to Life

Down the Line/Rarities – Buddy Holly
Feb. 3 marked the 50th Anniversary of “The Day the Music Died,” when an airplane crash took the lives of ’50s rockers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A vault of rare and unreleased Buddy Holly tracks has now been opened, and you will find plenty of gems on this new, multi-disc set.

Geffen Records’ two-CD, 59-song set of rarities includes a recording by Holly at age 14 and three more previously unreleased, undubbed recordings with his classmate Bob Montgomery. Down the Line/Rarities also includes both the entire undubbed legendary “Apartment Tapes” and the undubbed “Garage Tapes,” recorded with The Crickets in Holly’s family garage. The set is rounded out with outtakes and alternates of familiar recordings by Buddy and The Crickets. Other songs include “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Fool’s Paradise” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.” B

50 Greatest Hits – Reba McEntire
For four decades Reba McEntire has cranked out memorable hits that fans around the world have enjoyed. MCA Nashville, the Oklahoman’s recording home since 1984, is releasing this CD odyssey, which features 46 of the singer’s Top 10 hits, including 20 No. 1s.

50 Greatest Hits includes duets with Kelly Clarkson (“Because of You”), Brooks & Dunn (“If You See Him, If You See Her”), Vince Gill (“The Heart Won’t Lie”) and Linda Davis (“Does He Love You”). A follow-up to McEntire’s highly successful Duets album, the three-disc excitement kicks-off with “How Blue,” the first No. 1 she scored back in ’84. Other classics packaged on this collection include “Only in My Mind,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and “The Fear of Being Alone.” A+

Startin’ Fires – Blake Shelton
Multi-platinum artist Blake Shelton’s fifth album, Startin’ Fires, is mostly produced by Scott Hendricks (Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn), and the acclaimed producer did a great job working with the Ada, Okla., native. “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” the project’s first single, reached the Top 10, and there’s a host of future hits ready to be lit.

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Shelton’s record has an autobiographical tone throughout. The title comes from an album cut, “Good at Starting Fires.” “It actually reminded me of a 2008 version of ‘Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,’ the old Mel McDaniel song,” the 31-year-old singer explains. “I just thought it was a throwback to the music I grew up on.” There are more than romantic tunes on Startin’ Fires, including “Here I Am,” which he co-wrote with Dean Dillon, and “This Is Gonna Take All Night,” which he says is “pretty sexy for an up-tempo song.” “Bare Skin Rug” was written by Shelton and long-time girlfriend Miranda Lambert. A

Hillbilly Goddess – Alecia Nugent
With the legendary Carl Jackson producing and vocal support from country singer Rebecca Lynn Howard, this is a fine album. Alecia Nugent, from Hickory Grove, La., has turned quite a few heads and ears during her time making music – mostly of the Bluegrass variety – in Music City. This latest CD showcases the powerful singer’s ability to belt out the Bluegrass.

“Nugent possesses one of the most honest, refreshing and believable voices I’ve heard in many years,” says WSM Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs. “I truly believe she is destined for female vocalist and album of the year awards.” Hillbilly Goddess includes a classic heartbreaker titled “The Writing’s All Over the Wall,” and Nugent again demonstrates she can rip through a zippy Bluegrass romp with ease – from the feisty-female “Wrecking the Train” to the tongue-in-cheek “Cryin’ All the Way to the Bank.” The autobiographical “Nugent Family Band” was co-written with Miss Dixie and Tom T. Hall. B

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