Monday, November 24, 2008

I still do reviews for Country Standard Time. I don't always post them here because I've been getting a lot of mediocre CDs lately and it's hard to write a good review about a mediocre album. A crappy album -- now that's an easy and fun review to write, which is why I was excited when the editor assigned this record to me to review:
And hallelujah! it turned out to be just as crappy as I'd hoped it would be. This is the review I turned in:

Randy Owen

"One on One"

Broken Bow Records


Randy Owen was the lead singer of the popular band Alabama – popular with fans if not critics who got tired of them doing the same song over and over under different titles, i.e. is there really a nickel's worth of difference between Born Country; Down Home; Tennessee River; High Cotton; Song of the South – all the way back to their first hit single My Home's in Alabama. Perhaps realizing that they had exhausted all the possible ways to express the "I'm a happy redneck" sentiment, Alabama retired in 2003 to count their money and pat themselves on the back for their contributions to country music – making it blander and more repetitious.
This project does not feel like a typical Alabama album, for which I'm grateful as the wall I used to beat my head against when I was required to review them is not as sturdy as it used to be. On the other hand it does not feel like it took five years to put together – witness the misspellings in the press kit ("I Confess was a love song in the vain (sic) of Sweet Home Alabama ") and even in the song titles (No One can Love You Anymore – quick grammar lesson, unless you're talking about someone who's passed away or otherwise become unlovable, it's two words, Randy "any more".)
One difference is a sparseness of instrumentation. It's as though Owen doesn't want anything to overshadow his voice, which would be all right if the lyrics were better. Oh, they're not bland, on Slow and Steady a breathy Owen croons "I want to kiss you all over from your head down to your feet" (podophilia didn't pop up often in Alabama songs.) Braid My Hair (about children with life-threatening diseases) sounds genuine and compassionate until you get to the last track on the album, the 9/11-themed Pray Me Back Home (although predictably referred to "911" in the liner notes) and you realize he's just pushing all the buttons and pulling out all the stops – he actually recites "The Lord's Prayer" AND "The Pledge of Allegiance" on this one, and still the only praying most listeners will do after listening to it is for Randy to reretire.
-- Robert Loy

I knew he was going to cut the line about me banging my head against the wall because he has a rule against the first person singular pronouns, as hard and fast a rule as it is arbitrary. I just write my review and make him take out any "I's" or "me's". But that's not all he did. He cut out that whole second paragraph wherein I give Mr. Owen a much needed grammar and spelling lesson. It just boggled my mind that a professional CD would be released with that much illiteracy. The editor also added the line about John Rich producing the album. He asked me why I hadn't mentioned that and I said because I didn't think Rich would want it on his resume. Here's the review he ran:

Randy Owen was the lead singer of the popular band Alabama - popular with fans if not critics who got tired of them doing the same song over and over under different titles, i.e. is there really a nickel's worth of difference between Born Country; Down Home; Tennessee River; High Cotton; Song of the South - all the way back to their first hit single My Home's in Alabama. Perhaps realizing that they had exhausted all the possible ways to express the "I'm a happy redneck" sentiment, Alabama retired in 2003 to count their money and pat themselves on the back for their contributions to country music - making it blander and more repetitious.

This John-Rich produced project does not feel like a typical Alabama album. One difference is a sparseness of instrumentation. It's as though Owen doesn't want anything to overshadow his voice, which would be all right if the lyrics were better. Oh, they're not bland, on Slow and Steady, a breathy Owen croons "I want to kiss you all over from your head down to your feet" (podophilia didn't pop up often in Alabama songs.) Braid My Hair (about children with life-threatening diseases) sounds genuine and compassionate until you get to the last track, the 9/11-themed Pray Me Back Home (although predictably referred to "911" in the liner notes) and you realize he's just pushing all the buttons and pulling out all the stops - he actually recites "The Lord's Prayer" and "The Pledge of Allegiance" on this one, and still the only praying most listeners will do after listening to it is for Randy to reretire.

Still not a positive review, but I really think he took much of the punch out of it. I mean if you know that nobody bothered to proofread the song titles to see if they made sense, that really tells you all you need to know about an album.

2 comments:

india said...

I agree. Your first one was MUCH better.

Norrin2 said...

Thank you. With rare exceptions, this is what editors do -- emasculate writer's prose.