The title of this post should have The Mavericks mentioned first, but I wanted to lead with the positive, in the title at least. So the friend who I mentioned in this post, aside from trying to get me to a country gig, is also a big fan of The Mavericks. As such I decided to check them out and got The Definitive Collection; a best of collection from 2005 with 20 of their greatest hits.
Going into this CD the only song I knew of theirs was Dance The Night Away. Before we get carried away, it’s not with fondness that I remember this song, but with memories of it being overplayed on the radio and becoming one of those songs that ends up grating on you. At least that’s burning impression it left on me after all these years. I’m sorry to say that listening to this album did nothing to change my opinion of The Mavericks and I never actually got past the 5th song. What I heard was 5 songs that sounded very much like a wedding band and not what I expected to hear from a band that seem to get talked up to legendary status. I’d hoped it was just the first song but as each one came at me sounding similar I knew The Mavericks were not for me. Should I have given them more of a chance? Possibly, but when the first 25% of what is supposed to be their best has me grasping for the eject button, well it’s never going to end well. Life’s too short and there’s so much more music out there for me to discover and appreciate. So it’s adios to The Mavericks, sorry John.
Now moving on to another legend of the country music scene, the man we call Brad Paisley. To add a little background, I’ve owned two Brad Paisely albums for a while and not even listened to them more than once before this week – in fact one still remains in need of a updated listen. I got Who Needs Pictures for a whole pound at a car boot sale sometime last year. I got This Is Country Music later on the same year and have tragically only listened to it once.
Fast forward back to late last week and I watched a performance from Brad on the Jimmy Kimmel show where he played his latest single: Southern Comfort Zone. I loved the lyrics, loved the sound and was impressed by Brad’s guitar prowess. At this point I wondered why, in my 11 month journey into country music so far, I hadn’t listened to more from this axe wielding cowboy?
In a quest to listen to more from Brad I didn’t go to one of the two albums of his I own, something that will strike you as even more bizarre when you factor in that I had been talking about This Is Country Music with the same friend who likes The Mavericks, just one week previous. No, instead I went out and got Hits Alive. Yes, I know I should be listening to whole albums and not best ofs, but this a 2 CD set where the 2nd disc is live tracks, and I’m a huge fan of live music recordings. Factor in that it was less than £7 from a seller on Amazon and it was hard to resist.
From the moment I started playing that CD I knew I’d spent almost a whole year listening to all kinds of country music and had not in that time been listening to someone who in all probability will quickly rise to become one of my absolute favourites. The same skilled musician and great vocalist that I saw performing Southern Comfort Zone was present for every song, but even more so the songs resonated with me, maybe almost as much as Rodney Atkins Watching You. In complete contrast to The Mavericks album, I found myself loving song after song. Anything Like Me and Little Moments became instant favourites and listening to this collection of hits left me wanting to hear each and every one of his albums.
Since first listening to Hits Alive I have actually gone back and listened to This Is Country Music again, and yes, it’s absolutely brilliant. I haven’t yet played Who Needs pictures yet but it will be on the list for some time this weekend. I’m now looking forward to his new album Wheelhouse which comes out in April and have had American Saturday Nights recommended to me by @TommyCarter14 on Twitter. I caused a mini stir on Twitter yesterday when I announced that I’d voted for Carrie Underwood over Brad in the Taste of Country Bowl 2013. Just now writing about how much I liked Hits Alive, This Is Country Music and Southern Comfort Zone, I may have voted for the wrong person after all.