Are you a George Jones guy in a Garth Brooks world? A Loretta Lynn gal trying to understand why people still call Shania Twain a "country" artist?
Well, then this website is for you! Here's your chance to read all about Nashville pop, from the late-'50s "Nashville Sound" and the "countrypolitan" scene of the '70s to today's chart-toppers and pretty-boy hat acts, seen through the lens of DJ Joe Sixpack, a hick music know-it-all with a heart of gold...
Your comments and suggestions are welcome, particularly suggestions for artists or albums I might have missed. Other types of twang are reviewed elsewhere in my Hick Music Guide.
This is the fourth page covering the letter "B"
BR5-frickin'-49 - see (sigh.) artist discography
Brad & Shelly "24/7" (Cupit, 2004)
Not that you'd know it from listening to Clear Channel... I mean, the radio... but independent country is alive and well, somewhere out there, and there are plenty of gems to be heard, if you just know where to find them. This album features a cheerful little song -- "Don't Make Me (Have To Come In There)" -- that sounds like something straight out of the '70s, and probably would have been a big hit if it had come out back then. Led by a bouncy, Cajun-tinged fiddle, this is just a plain, old fun song, with fine duet and harmony vocals. Uncomplicated, good-natured and irresistible. Worth a spin, if you're looking for an antidote to the overwrought country-pop of today.
Bobby Braddock "Between The Lines" (Elektra, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Gant)
Yikes. Songwriter Bobby Braddock made a name for himself in the late '60s and early '70s with rollicking novelty numbers like "Nothin's Ever Hurt Me" and "Something To Brag About," as well as super-sniffly weepers such as "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" -- real classics. He had a great track record, but man, is this a terrible record! One overwrought, agonized, overcooked, lounge-y countrypolitan tune after another... Nothing much that has a real hook to it, though, or a concise enough concept to be memorable. Oh, well. On Side Two he picks up the pace a bit and sounds kinda like Randy Newman... Of course that comparison is made somewhat mundane on the nuclear-bomb anxiety song, "Blow Us Away," which lists all the countries that have (or will have) the Bomb... A fairly unsubtle rehash of Newman's "Political Science," but still a little interesting, from a historical standpoint, if not musically.
Bobby Braddock "Love Bomb" (Elektra, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Gant)
Bobby Braddock "Hardpore Cornography" (RCA, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Braddock)
This 6-song EP looks a bit scary, but I am curious about the novelty song, "Dolly Parton's Hits..."
Terry Bradshaw "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (Mercury, 1976) (LP)
At the height of his fame as quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, football dude and future TV commentator Terry Bradshaw also tried his hand at country music. This first album yielded a modest hit with a cover of an old Hank Williams song, but that success was never quite replicated on his later records. In the 1990s, he returned to the studios to record a couple of gospel and holiday records... (For more on those albums, you can check out my Country Gospel section... )
Terry Bradshaw "Until You" (Benson, 1980) (LP)
Terry Bradshaw "Here In My Heart" (Benson, 1982) (LP)
Paul Brandt "Calm Before The Storm" (Reprise, 1996)
Canadian cowpoke Paul Brandt had a couple of big hits straight out the gate: "My Heart Has A History" and the super-sappy "I Do" both hit the Top 5 on the charts, with his thick, rumbly vocals framed in a picture-perfect, prefab bed of traditionally-oriented "young country" arrangements. Whatever marketing mojo or word of mouth he had going for him faded pretty fast, though -- none of Brandt's later records did all that well, chartwise, and he never quite filled the gaps in the Garth/Dwight/Alan Jackson/Vince Gill axis... This guy doesn't strike me as particularly charismatic or soulful, but I guess he's okay.
Paul Brandt "Outside The Frame" (Warner, 1997)
Paul Brandt "That's The Truth" (Warner, 1999)
Paul Brandt "A Paul Brandt Christmas: Shall I Play For You?" (Reprise, 1999)
(See my Country Christmas section for more...)
Paul Brandt "What I Want To Be Remembered For" (Warner, 2000)
Paul Brandt "Small Towns And Big Dreams" (Universal, 2001)
Paul Brandt "This Time Around" (Brand T, 2004)
Paul Brandt "A Gift" (Brand T, 2006)
A Christmas album...
Paul Brandt "Risk" (Brand T, 2007)
Paul Brandt "Give It Away" (Brand T, 2011)
Paul Brandt "Just As I Am" (Brand T, 2012)
A gospel album, featuring duets with John Anderson, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs, Dan Tyminsky and others...
Kippi Brannon "I'd Be With You" (Curb, 1997)
(Produced by Mark Bright)
This was actually a comeback album: Brannon was a teenage singer who had had even bigger success in the early '80s, but retired after releasing several popular singles for the MCA label. She tried restarting her career a few years later, but only came back to record an album a decade later... And here it is! Brannon also recorded a duet with Jeff Carter, "Daddy's Little Girl," which is included here.
Louisa Branscomb "I'll Take Love (From The Pen Of Louisa Branscomb)" (Compass, 2011)
Tom Bresh "Homemade Love" (Farr Music, 1976) (LP)
(Produced & arranged by Jimmy Bowen)
A dreadful late entry into the '70s countrypolitan genre. The son of superpicker Merle Travis, Tom Bresh (also spelled Thom Bresh...) took his dad's fingerpicking style into the charts himself, particularly on this debut disc, which yielded his biggest commercial hits, the including the title track, which hit #6 on the charts, and the followup, "Sad Country Love Song," which cracked into the Top 20. That trajectory pretty much defined the rest of his career - a steady but honorable slide off of the mainstream country charts. This album is also notable for the novelty number, "Funky Country Music Disco Band" and for being a successful indie album, the kind of thing that was still around in the '70s. Musically, it's terrible, with lots of nods to the disco sound, and generally goopy arrangements. Bresh's vocals are underwhelming, and his guitar playing is buried under the glitzy pop production. Oh, well.
Tom Bresh "Kicked Back" (ABC-Dot, 1977) (LP)
Tom Bresh "Portrait" (ABC, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jimmy Bowen)
On his last major-label release, Bresh more or less goes "outlaw," with a barrage of sexually frank or suggestive songs, along with direct references to getting stoned and partying hard, with a hedonistic edge that goes a little beyond the key-party/singles bar swinger mentality that entered Nashville in the early '70s. Songwriter Curly Putman contributes the innuendo-laden "A Woman Who Will," as well as the self-indulgent "Makin' Love, Feelin' No Pain," while Bobby Braddock adds the darker, more downcast "My Better Half," where a guy who got dumped sits alone in bed, contemplating suicide. Bresh adopts a casual, almost Jerry Jeff Walker-like vibe -- I don't think he cared much if this record was a hit, and it seems unlikely that it got much publicity from the folks in Nashville, so he just lets it all hang loose. It's not a very catchy record, but it's consistently intriguing -- the only real duds are a disco-y track at the end of the album and Bresh's unusual cover of one of his father's old hits, "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette," which he sings at an oddly slow tempo and in a weird comedic voice -- an odd homage to his father's great career. (Note: there's a Dennis Wilson listed as singing backup vocals on several tracks, though I'm not sure if it's the Beach Boys guy or not. Anyone know for sure?)
Tom Bresh "Wires To The Wood" (Legend)
Bud Brewer "Big Bertha, The Truck Driving Queen" (RCA Victor, 1972) (LP)
I don't know much about this jovial, truckin' song singin' good ole boy, but I was drawn to his album because he covers a couple of tunes that were later recorded a couple of years later by Gary Stewart on his first album for MCA... (What was up with that? Did some song plugger know them both?) At any rate, this is a mighty fine, mighty fun album, full of unrepentantly good-timin', cheatin', chasin', drinkin' losin' songs, many of which were plucked from old records, some of which seem to have been new to this record. Brewer was sort of a mix between Red Sovine and Charlie Walker, ideal for fans of old-fashioned hard country novelty songs. Wonder if he made any other records...(?)
Lee Brice "Love Like Crazy" (Curb, 2010)
(Produced by Doug Johnson & Lee Brice)
Lee Brice "Hard 2 Love" (Curb, 2012)
(Produced by Lee Brice, various producers)
Chad Brock "Chad Brock" (Warner Brothers, 1998)
(Produced by Norro Wilson & Buddy Cannon)
The opening track, "Going The Distance," is a real hard-country winner, a surprisingly pure, fiddle-licious thumper; the album gets poppier as it goes along, but for the most part, it's pretty nice. Sappy in spots, and very formulaic, but overall fairly straightforward... All the modern crap is completely excused by the inclusion of a winner like "Unbreak My Heart." He has a very young, bright-sounding voice here, but I like him on the earthier numbers.
Chad Brock "Yes!" (Warner, 2000)
(Produced by Buddy Cannon & Norro Wilson)
Yeesh. He sure went the wrong way. A bunch of overproduced, overly popped-up prefab tunes, with overwritten lyrics and too much "class." Wish he'd kept a little more grit in the mix, but this is straight-up wimpo sensitive, "thinking man's country," falling in the same boring, lifeless traps as oh, so many modern Nashvillers. "Young Enough To Know It All" is almost kind of okay, but it's not much to write home about. Pretty much everything else on here is a dud, including the YTK remake of Hank, Jr's "A Country Boy Can Survive" (which is about as bad as you might imagine, except that it does have a current events-y twist, being about the Y2K Millennium bug scare... And Hank, Jr. adds guest vocals, too. Oh, boy.) This is kinda skippable.
Chad Brock "III" (Warner Brothers, 2001)
(Produced by Buddy Cannon & Norro Wilson)
His third album keeps up the soft-pop/rock orientation, and generally speaking isn't all that strong an album, at least from a country traditionalists point of view. Didn't do much for me. His earlier hits, "Ordinary Life" and "Yes" are thrown in as sweetner... Odd move, unless of course, the label wasn't sure about the quality of this disc on its own. And with paper-thin compositions like "Tell Me How" and ""I'd Love To Love You," that would seem like a pretty good theory.
Lane Brody "Lane Brody" (EMI, 1985) (LP)
Lane Brody "Familiar Places" (Records Records, 2001)
Lane Brody "Pieces Of Life" (Scream, 2002)
Lisa Brokop "My Love" (Libre, 1991)
Lisa Brokop "Every Little Girl's Dream" (Capitol/Patriot, 1994)
(Produced by Jerry Crutchfield)
Despite having a couple of lively, uptempo singles -- "Take That" and "Give Me A Ring Sometime" -- this debut album tanked, with both songs falling well short of the Top 40. Maybe partly it was because Brokop was from Canada, but more likely it was because she was mired in the same sort of overripe, white soul sister vocal theatrics that Wynonna Judd and K.T. Oslin banked on in years gone by... The style doesn't do much for me, especially when she gets bogged down in thick, overwritten ballads... But Brokop has her fans, to be sure, even if she had to retreat to the Canadian market when she failed to make a dent down in the States. If you like Wynonna, you might wanna check this gal out.
Lisa Brokop "Lisa Brokop" (Capitol, 1996)
Lisa Brokop "When You Get To Be You" (Columbia, 1998)
Lisa Brokop "Undeniable" (Royalty, 2004)
Lisa Brokop "Hey, Do You Know Me?" (EMI, 2005)
Lisa Brokop "Beautiful Tragedy" (Ellbea, 2008)
Brooks & Dunn - see artist discography
Garth Brooks - see artist discography
Karen Brooks "Walk On" (Warner, 1982) (LP)
Karen Brooks "Hearts On Fire" (Warner, 1984) (LP)
Karen Brooks "I Will Dance With You" (Warner, 1985) (LP)
Karen Brooks & Randy Sharp "That's Another Story" (Mercury, 1992)
Kix Brooks "Kix Brooks" (Capitol, 1989)
(Produced by Kix Brooks & Rafe VanHoy)
The debut disc from one half of the Brooks-Dunn duo... This is his first record, a solo set recorded before beginning his partnership with Ronnie Brooks (though re-released in '93 after they hit the big time...) To be honest, it's a fairly flat album, pretty by-the-numbers and uninspiring. It just never really catches fire. But, man! When he hooked up with Dunn, the two of them hit a real groove. Go figure.
Kix Brooks "New To This Town" (Sony Nashville-Arista, 2012)
(Produced by Kix Brooks & Jay DeMarcus)
Solid, modern country-pop with real nods towards tradition. I think Kix sounds better with Ronnie Dunn harmonizing and adding his energy to the mix, but this album is way more exciting that his first solo set, from many years ago. Nice mellow arrangements, with traditional instruments like the fiddle, pedal steel and mandolin mixed up in the front and surprisingly well balanced with the more aggressive synths, electric guitars and other formulaic pop touches. The more subtle stuff is best; I can skip the parts where he tries to sound all macho and gruff, like on the Southern rocky "Next To That Woman" or "My Baby," which sounds like a Big & Rich outtake. Overall, I think fans'll be happy with this one, and the folks on radio ought to find some hits to spin as well. A well-produced, confident album from an old pro and proven hitmaker.
Commercial Country Albums - More Letter "B"
Hick Music Index