May 25

Poco – Pickin’ Up The Pieces (1969) [Audio Fidelity 2013]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:42 minutes | Scans included | 1,61 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 813 MB
Mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering | Audio Fidelity # AFZ-158 | Genre: Country, Folk

Poco dealt with a lot during the recording of their debut album – the sudden departure of bassist Randy Meisner, the frustration of working with an engineer who didn’t quite get what they were trying for, and a lot of pressure to deliver a solid collection of country-rock songs – and came up with this startlingly great record, as accomplished as any of Buffalo Springfield’s releases, and also reminiscent of the Beatles and the Byrds. Pickin’ Up the Pieces is all the more amazing when one considers that Jim Messina and George Grantham were both covering for the departed Meisner in hastily learned capacities on bass and vocals, respectively. The title track is practically an anthem for the virtues of country-rock, with the kind of sweet harmonizing and tight interplay between the guitars that the Byrds, the Burritos, and others had to work awhile to achieve. The mix of good-time songs (“Consequently So Long,” “Calico Lady”), fast-paced instrumentals (“Grand Junction”), and overall rosy feelings makes this a great introduction to the band, as well as a landmark in country-rock only slightly less important (but arguably more enjoyable than) Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

01. Foreward
02. What A Day
03. Nobody’s Fool
04. Calico Lady
05. First Love
06. Make Me A Smile
07. Short Changed
08. Pickin’ Up The Pieces
09. Grand Junction
10. Oh Yeah
11. Just In Case It Happens, Yes Indeed
12. Tomorrow
13. Consequently So Long

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May 09

Hank Locklin – The Girls Get Prettier (1966/2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 28:26 minutes | 1,08 GB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Front cover | © RCA/Legacy

Florida-born Hank Locklin was one of the great soft crooners of the Nashville Sound era of countrypolitan pop… Like many of his contemporaries he had more rural roots, playing melodic honkytonk in his youth, but veering towards a more “sophisticated” sound in the late 1960s…

01 – There’s More Pretty Girls Than One
02 – My Happiness
03 – The Honey Song (Honey I’m in Love with You)
04 – A Good Woman’s Love
05 – The Girls Get Prettier (Every Day)
06 – Put Me in Your Pocket
07 – Why Baby Why
08 – I Love You a Thousand Ways
09 – My Blue Eyed Jane
10 – Tie Me to Your Apron Strings Again
11 – Before I Met You
12 – It’s Another World

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May 03

Don Bowman – Funny Way To Make An Album (1966/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 28:46 minutes | 662 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | © RCA Victor/Legacy

Don Bowman was an American country music singer, songwriter, comedian and radio host. He recorded for RCA Victor between 1964 and 1970. In 1966, Bowman won Favorite Country Comedy Recording of the Year award from Billboard. In 1967, he was named Comedian of the Year by the Country Music Association.

Country humorist Don Bowman didn’t have many hit singles, but he had a few charting albums and, in later years, found a following among certain quarters of the Dr. Demento crowd. It is tempting (and convenient) to compare Bowman to his better-known contemporaries Roger Miller and Homer & Jethro, and, in a way, Bowman’s style falls somewhere between those two acts. He concentrates on original songs like Miller, but his cornball humor and occasional song parodies are similar to Homer & Jethro’s. In any case, Bowman’s distinctive voice and wacky wit combined to make some crazy country music. On Funny Way to Make an Album, Bowman acknowledges Miller with a rendition of “Kansas City Star” and offers a tribute to songwriter Harlan Howard with “Dear Harlan Howard” (a minor hit and a follow-up of sorts to his 1964 single “Chet Atkins Make Me a Star”). “Things Are Looking Up” is a hilarious ode to getting drunk, and “Little Diesel Drivin’ Devil” is Bowman’s contribution to truckin’ music. “The Other Ringo” is a parody of Lorne Greene’s “Ringo” with new lyrics about the Beatles’ drummer. Bowman alternates between songs and recitations, all of which range from funny to strange. Bowman’s peculiar brew may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s undeniably talented.

01 – Dear Harlan Howard
02 – The Other Ringo
03 – I Get the Feeling We’re Through
04 – Dear Sister
05 – That’s Show Biz
06 – Little Diesel Drivin’ Devil
07 – Things Are Looking Up
08 – More Than Me
09 – Kansas City Star
10 – Freddy Four Toes
11 – Boll Weevil Air Lines
12 – Freda on the Freeway

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May 03

George Jones – George Jones (1972/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 28:50 minutes | 613 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | © Epic Records

George Jones was an American country music singer-songwriter who released many successful albums from the 1960s through the 80’s. “George Jones”, also titled “George Jones (We Can Make It)” was Jones’ 46th studio album release since a debut from 16 years previous. Also as a highlight in his career, it was the first release made on Jones’ new label, Epic Records.

George Jones’s first solo outing for Epic in 1972 is a rough concept album built around his own optimism and joy about his marriage to Tammy Wynette, even though cracks were already beginning to show in their real-life relationship. Jones’ voice sounds mature, settled, and smooth – a perfect combination with Billy Sherrill’s decidedly non-country, slick production style.

01 – We Can Make It
02 – I’ll Take You to My World
03 – Kiss an Angel Good Morning
04 – All the Praises
05 – She’s All I Got
06 – The Last Letter
07 – Loving You Could Never Be Better
08 – The King
09 – Try It, You’ll Like It
10 – One of These Days
11 – Let’s Make History

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Apr 27

Carrie Underwood – Play On (2009)

FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 48:24 minutes | 582 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Digital booklet | © 19 Recordings Limited/Arista Nashville

2009 release from the four-time Grammy Award winner and former American Idol winner. Carrie has come a long way since her AI days including selling more than 10 million albums, garnering ACM and CMA awards and becoming the first Country artist in history to achieve 10 #1 singles from her first two albums. To top that all off, she was also recently inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame! This 2009 album includes the first single ‘Cowboy Casanova.’

Daisy in her hair aside, Carrie Underwood looks flat-out glamorous on the cover of Play On, which is a pretty fair indication of what awaits listeners on her third album. Carrie is still nominally a country artist and sometimes will sing supported by fiddles and steel guitar, but this is crossover pop pure and simple, whether it’s the thundering rhythms on the Shania-styled strut “Cowboy Casanova” or the succession of maudlin melodies on the preponderance of power ballads. Many of these overwrought ballads are infused with a heavy-handed social consciousness – Carrie decries hunger on “Change” and homelessness on “Temporary Home” – unfortunately reminiscent of Idol Gives Back, and they’re not the only AmIdol connection here, as fourth wheel Kara DioGuardi co-wrote the strained sassiness of “Undo It” and the sticky, tacky “Mama’s Song” with Underwood herself. Carrie takes a much stronger presence as a writer here, co-authoring seven of the 13 songs, and she’s attracted to hookless showstoppers designed to showcase her powerful voice, all glory notes with no glory. When she sticks to tunes written solely by the professionals, Play On does have some slick pleasures, particularly on the breezy “Quitter” and “This Time,” songs built on solid melodies and delivered without flash, relying on craft and Carrie’s considerable small-town charm – a gift that remains intact despite the misguided attempt on the rest of Play On as if she’s nothing but a diva.

01 – Cowboy Casanova
02 – Quitter
03 – Mama’s Song
04 – Change
05 – Undo It
06 – Someday When I Stop Loving You
07 – Songs Like This
08 – Temporary Home
09 – This Time
10 – Look at Me
11 – Unapologize
12 – What Can I Say (Featuring Sons of Sylvia)
13 – Play On

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Apr 27

Carrie Underwood – Carnival Ride (2007)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 50:27 minutes | 605 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Front cover | © Arista Nashville

Anyone who predicted that Carrie Underwood’s second album would start with a sugary radio song might be surprised by the sultry, sassy, country-rocking “Flat On The Floor.” But not to worry, pop fans — “All-American Girl” is a soaring, triumphant song that sounds like a hot hit, fresh off Music City’s grill, and the moving and romantic “Wheel of the World” is chick-flick soundtrack friendly. As a singer (and co-writer of three songs), Underwood really comes into her own onCarnival Ride, reminding country music fans why she was the first countrified American Idol and usurper of Faith Hill’s throne.

Carrie Underwood pulled off that tricky maneuver with a deceptive ease on her 2005 debut, Some Hearts, which turned into a smash success, turning sextuple platinum at a time when many albums struggle to go gold, even surpassing the sales of the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson. Such success raised the bar for her 2007 follow-up, Carnival Ride. Traditionally, second albums are a place where artists consolidate their strengths or expand their reach, either with an eye toward artistic growth or commercial success, and Carrie chooses the former option, creating a record that is more purely country than her debut. She dials down the pageantry drama that peppered her debut – there are no Diane Warren songs, for instance – and plays up her humble, all-American persona, singing songs about small towns and big dreams, even attempting to kick up some dirt and grit on the one-night-stand anthem “Last Name,” which is Miranda Lambert filtered through Shania Twain. And one of the striking things about Carnival Ride is how completely Carrie Underwood has stepped into the void that Shania and Faith Hill left behind: the small-town girl made good but who hasn’t left her roots behind. In other words, she hasn’t made the big pop diva move that Shania did with Up! or Faith with Cry; she’s planted herself firmly within country. Now, Carrie’s country is hardly traditionalist – despite the lack of Diane Warren tunes, there are plenty of power ballads here, along with light drum loops that aren’t commonly heard in Nashville – but her approach is completely contemporary country, in how it blurs the borders between country and arena rock, something that’s perfect for a girl who made her first big splash singing Heart. Sound and feel do mean a lot, but country records really survive on the strength of their songs, and the remarkable thing about Carnival Ride is that it’s stronger song for song than Some Hearts, some of this due to Carrie herself, who bears four songwriting credits here, often in conjunction with some permutation of Steve McEwan and Hillary Lindsey, who pen a bunch of other tunes here. The songs may veer just a bit too close to the big power ballads, but they all work as strong pieces of commercial country, built on surging melodies (all the better for Carrie to belt) and lyrics that play into Underwood’s small-town girl persona but are also open-ended enough to be relatable. All this very well may be more calculating than it appears, but the appealing thing about Carnival Ride is that it plays so smoothly and assuredly that you just go along for the ride, especially because Carrie sells these songs completely, making the clichés and cornball phrases believable. It’s a gift that Shania had, but she always seemed larger than life. In contrast, Carrie Underwood only sounds larger than life, and she still comes across like the girl next door despite her massive success, and this lingering sense of innocence – however constructed for stage it may be – gives an album as big and shiny as Carnival Ride the appearance of a genuine heart, something that no other big country-pop album has had since the glory days of Come on Over.

01 – Flat On The Floor
02 – All-American Girl
03 – So Small
04 – Just A Dream
05 – Get Out Of This Town
06 – Crazy Dreams
07 – I Know You Won’t
08 – Last Name
09 – You Won’t Find This
10 – I Told You So
11 – The More Boys I Meet
12 – Twisted
13 – Wheel Of The World

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Apr 27

Carrie Underwood – Some Hearts (2005)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 54:02 minutes | 649 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Front cover | © Arista Nashville

Grammy-winning American Idol champ’s 1985 album debut

Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood got Nashville’s attention in an unusual way — by winning the TV talent show American Idol — but her 2005 debut is state-of-the-art mainstream Music City product.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, writes Country Weekly, not when it’s this vibrant, heartfelt and energetic. A belter in the Martina McBride mold, Carrie wisely chose songs appropriate to her age (then 22), focusing on stories of young people leaving home to chase their dreams and make their own mistakes. She makes a few of those mistakes here, but by and large Some Hearts is a heartening debut.

So, the powers that be decided that Underwood would be a contemporary country singer in the vein of Faith Hill – she’d sing anthemic country pop, ideal for either country or adult contemporary radio, with none of the delightful tackiness of Shania Twain – and her debut album, Some Hearts, not only hits this mark exactly, it’s better than either album Hill has released since Breathe in 1999. Which isn’t to say that Carrie Underwood is as compelling or as distinctive as a personality or vocalist as Faith Hill: Underwood is still developing her own style and, for as good a singer as she is, she doesn’t have much of a persona beyond that of the girl next door made good. But that’s enough to make Some Hearts work, since she’s surrounded by professionals, headed by producers Mark Bright and Dann Huff, who know how to exploit that persona effectively. While some of the songs drift a little bit toward the generic, especially in regard to the adult contemporary ballads, most of the material is slick, sturdy, and memorable, delivered with conviction by Underwood. She sounds equally convincing on such sentimental fare as “Jesus, Take the Wheel” as on the soaring pop “Some Hearts,” and even if she doesn’t exactly sound tough on the strutting “Before He Cheats,” she does growl with a fair amount of passion. In fact, the worst thing here is her chart-topping post-American Idol hit “Inside Your Heaven,” which is as formulaic as the mainstream country-pop that comprises the rest of Some Hearts, but with one crucial difference: the formula doesn’t work, the song is too sappy and transparent, the arrangement too cold. On the rest of Some Hearts, everything clicks – the production is warm, the tunes inoffensive but ingratiating, it straddles the country and pop worlds with ease, and most importantly, it’s every bit as likeable as Carrie was on American Idol. Which means that even if she’s not nearly as sassy or charismatic as Kelly Clarkson – she’s not as spunky as Nashville Star finalist Miranda Lambert, for that matter – Carrie Underwood has delivered the best post-AmIdol record since Clarkson’s debut.

01 – Wasted
02 – Don’t Forget To Remember Me
03 – Some Hearts
04 – Jesus, Take the Wheel
05 – The Night Before (Life Goes On)
06 – Lessons Learned
07 – Before He Cheats
08 – Starts With Goodbye
09 – I Just Can’t Live A Lie
10 – We’re Young And Beautiful
11 – That’s Where It Is
12 – Whenever You Remember
13 – I Ain’t In Checotah Anymore
14 – Inside Your Heaven

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Apr 27

Carrie Underwood – Blown Away (2012) [AcousticSounds FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]


Carrie Underwood – Blown Away (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 55:37 minutes | 657 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Front cover | © 19 Recordings Limited/Arista Nashville

Produced by Mark Bright, the forthcoming album, Blown Away, was featured in Entertainment Weekly’s recent “10 albums we can’t wait for.” This will be the fourth studio album on 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville for the five-time Grammy winner. The debut single “Good Girl” isco-written by Underwood. Since releasing Some Hearts in 2005, Underwood has sold more than 14 million albums with Some Hearts, 2007’s Carnival Ride, and 2009’s Play On. She’s amassed 14 No. 1 singles, six of which she co-wrote, and became the first country artist in history and the only American Idol winner ever to achieve 10 No. 1 singles from their first two albums. Underwood is a five-time Grammy Award winner, a two-time Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year, a three-time Country Music Association and ACM Female Vocalist winner, and a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Prior to the release of her fourth album, Blown Away, in the spring of 2012, Carrie Underwood claimed that she was getting back to having “real things to write about and real things to sing about” – a sentiment that’s all well and good but has precisely nothing to do with the brassy blowout of the finished product. Dispensing with any pretense that Underwood remains a down-home country girl – the kind who takes carnival rides and sticks a daisy in her hair – Blown Away is an unabashed glossy pop album, positioning Carrie as the heir to Shania Twain and Faith Hill’s country diva act, pushing the comparisons so far that she looks like a runway refugee on the album cover and she concludes the hourlong marathon with a song written by Twain’s former husband, Mutt Lange. Naturally, this showstopping act suits a former American Idol winner but, better still, this exercise in turn-of-the-millennium nostalgia is executed with skill and savvy, offering the kind of larger-than-life power ballads and cheerful, clomping arena country that have fallen out of favor in the early days of the 2010s. Not that Underwood and team – led by producer Mark Bright and also featuring songwriters Ashley Gorley, Chris DeStefano, Josh Kear, Hillary Lindsey, and Ryan Tedder – are ignorant of the country and pop trends of 2012. They find room for light, sunny pop (“Do You Think About Me,” “Nobody Ever Told You”), a bit of Caribbean breeze on “One Way Ticket,” and a stomping chant-along hook on “Leave Love Alone,” and they splice Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson together on the ludicrously fun “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun,” which is enough to make Blown Away not seem like a throwback even if its heart belongs to the days of diamond-certified albums. Sure, that diva worship makes it seem ever so slightly old-fashioned, yet this is Carrie’s wheelhouse – she’s meant to sing these oversized ballads and hooks, she’s meant to look as unattainable as she does on the cover. She’s meant to be be a superstar and she’s never seemed as comfortable with her calling as she does on Blown Away.

01 – Good Girl
02 – Blown Away
03 – Two Black Cadillacs
04 – See You Again
05 – Do You Think About Me
06 – Forever Changed
07 – Nobody Ever Told You
08 – One Way Ticket
09 – Thank God For Hometowns
10 – Good In Goodbye
11 – Leave Love Alone
12 – Cupid’s Got A Shotgun
13 – Wine After Whiskey
14 – Who Are You

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Apr 26

Alejandro Escovedo – Burn Something Beautiful
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 48:27 minutes | 1,06 GB | Genre: Rock, Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | Digital Booklet | © Fantasy Records

Produced by Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) Burn Something Beautiful is Alejandro’s 12th solo studio album and most definitive album to date. The album was written, arranged and performed as a true collaboration with Peter and Scott in Portland, OR. The band is rounded out with guitarist Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks), Decembertists’ drummer John Moen, Los Lobos’ saxophonist Steve Berlin and singers Corin Tucker (SleaterKinney) and Kelly Hogan (Neko Case).

Born in 1951, Alejandro Escovedo is at an age where most rock musicians are happily coasting on their past accomplishments, if they’re still making new music at all. Thankfully, Escovedo is and always has been a maverick, and he’s eagerly overhauled his sound and approach with his twelfth studio album, 2016’s Burn Something Beautiful. After making three fine albums with producer Tony Visconti and a band anchored by guitarist Chuck Prophet, Escovedo has taken a creative left turn and crafted Burn Something Beautiful with a new set of collaborators. The album was produced by former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5 founder Scott McCaughey, and the two also co-wrote the songs with Escovedo. The studio band includes Buck, McCaughey, Kurt Bloch (of the Fastbacks), and John Moen (of the Decemberists), with guest appearances from Corin Tucker (ex-Sleater-Kinney). Kelly Hogan (longtime vocal cohort with Neko Case), and Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos). The finished product sounds unmistakably like an Alejandro Escovedo album, but the textures of his musical personality readily mesh with the tuneful but noisy, anything-goes freedom of Buck’s freewheeling post-R.E.M. solo albums. The thick layers of buzzy guitar that dominate tunes like “Horizontal” and “Luna de Miel” take Escovedo’s punk and glam influences and twist them into new shapes, while pop-oriented tracks such as “Heartbeat Smile” and “Farewell to the Good Times” have potent hooks but also a tough, insistent rock & roll backbone. And when Escovedo bares his soul on tunes like “Suit of Lights” and “I Don’t Want to Play Guitar Anymore,” his collaborators know how to match the mood without letting the music go limp. Escovedo is working with some stellar musicians who also lock in with him like a band, and this is an album where the players create a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts. Burn Something Beautiful comes after a period of transition for Escovedo, with the artist leaving his longtime home of Austin, Texas for Houston after a health scare and a brush with death when he and his new wife found their honeymoon interrupted by a category four hurricane. But despite time and tough circumstances, the man is still writing outstanding, revealing songs full of heart, soul, and intelligence, and these performances show he’s hardly run short of new ways to make his work communicate. An album full of potent atmosphere, dirty guitars, and emotional honesty, Burn Something Beautiful ranks with Escovedo’s best and most adventurous work, and both fans and curious neophytes owe it to themselves to give it a listen. (Mark Deming, allmusic)

01. Horizontal
02. Heartbeat Smile
03. Sunday Morning Feeling
04. Suit Of Lights
05. Redemption Blues
06. Shave The Cat
07. Johnny Volume
08. Beauty Of Your Smile
09. I Don’t Want To Play Guitar Anymore
10. Beauty And The Buzz
11. Luna De Miel
12. Farewell To The Good Times
13. Thought I’d Let You Know

Alejandro Escovedo – guitars, lead vocals
Kurt Bloch − lead guitar
Peter Buck − guitars
Scott McCaughey − bass, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
John Moen − drums, percussion, vibraphone, backing vocals
Steve Berlin − baritone saxophone
Kelly Hogan – vocals
Corin Tucker − vocals (6, 11)

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Apr 07

The Three Suns – Country Music Shindig (1965/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 36:46 minutes | 783 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front cover | © RCA Records

Country Music Shindig is a departure for the Three Suns in that their typical instrumental medley style is applied to a program of country songs — 34 of them in total. The selections seem to reveal a thorough knowledge of country music. For example, the set includes songs that wouldn’t be readily identified with country music today, like “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Crying in the Chapel,” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” all of which were country hits. Then there are obscurities like the Sons of the Pioneers’ “Roses” alongside crossover hits and an occasional oddball like the Broadway tune “Wagon Wheels.” The album is heavier on electric guitar than some of the Suns’ earlier efforts, and is also the last album they recorded with longtime producer and conductor Al Nevins, who died shortly afterward. ~~ AllMusic Review by Greg Adams

1 Anytime / Candy Kisses / I Walk the Line / Rag Mop 02:46
2 You Don’t Know Me 02:19
3 Wagon Wheels / Please Help Me, I’m Falling / Till I Waltz Again with You / Jingle Bell Rock 04:20
4 Let Me Go, Love / I’m Throwing Rice ( At the Girl I Love) / Love Me Tender 02:54
5 Sugarfoot Rag 02:38
6 Crying In the Chapel / I’ll Step Aside / Just a Little Lovin’ / Cincinnati Dancing Pig 03:38
7 Bouquet of Roses / Walking the Floor Over You / Room Full of Roses / Blue Suede Shoes 03:24
8 No One to Cry To 00:02:10
9 Roses / (Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You / I’m Movin’ On / Tennessee Saturday Night 03:04
10 I Really Don’t Want to Know / Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle / I Went to Your Wedding 03:47
11 Tennessee Polka 02:26
12 Chained to a Memory / This Is the Thanks I Get (For Loving You) / A Prison Without Walls / Salty Dog Rag 03:20

Artie Dunn – Organ
Al Nevins – Guitar
Morty Nevins – Accordion
Roy Glover – Arranger

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