Sunday, August 26, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for August 24, 2007...

Hey boys and girls, it's time for my birthday week tunes. This week Finger Eleven stay at the top for a second week, while Pink (pictured above) rockets back into the top-10 in her second ride on the list with "Who Knew", while "U & Ur Hand" is still in the top-40. In fact six of the artists in the top-10 have two songs on the chart. Other big moves come from songs by Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Rihanna, and Kelly Rowland, while Beyonce & Shakira, Yoko Ono, September, Daughtry, and Rob Thomas drop off. As always Link-O-Rama is in effect, so click on any highlighted name to bring up their website (right clicking to bring it up in another window or tab is extra cool). I'll be all quiet-like, Sugarbear is sleeping...

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position in parentheses)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (1)
2. Rehab - Amy Winehouse (2)
3. Umbrella - Rihanna (3)
4. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (4)
5. What I've Done - Linkin Park (6)
6. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (7)
7. Who Knew - Pink (13)
8. I Need You - Tim McGraw f/Faith Hill (8)
9. Rockstar - Nickelback (11)
10. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (12)
11. I Told You So - Keith Urban (5)
12. Icky Thump - White Stripes (14)
13. Home - Daughtry (9)
14. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (17)
15. Do You Know? (The Ping Pong Song) - Enrique Iglesias (16)
16. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (33)
17. Because Of You - Ne-Yo (10)
18. Stand Back (Remix) - Stevie Nicks (19)
19. Put 'Em Up - Edun (23)
20. Dig - Incubus (18)
21. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (34)
22. First Time - Lifehouse (22)
23. U & Ur Hand - Pink (21)
24. Defying Gravity - Idina Menzel (25)
25. Rollercoaster - Erika Jayne (26)
26. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani f/Akon (24)
27. Whine Up - Kat Deluna (39)
28. Feel Together - Ben Macklin f/Tiger Lily (28)
29. Tarantula - Smashing Pumpkins (29)
30. (You Want To) Make A Memory - Bon Jovi (35)
31. Lost And Found - Delerium (38)
32. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson (20)
33. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie (37)
34. Lost In This Moment - Big & Rich (15)
35. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (36)
36. Because Of You - Reba McEntire f/Kelly Clarkson (41)
37. Stranger - Hilary Duff (43)
38. Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift (40)
39. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (44)
40. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (42)
41. My Destiny - Kim English (27)
42. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (47)
43. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (74)
44. Sound Of Freedom - Bob Sinclar (52)
45. Tough - Craig Morgan (45)
46. Feels Like Home - Meck f/Dino (51)
47. Everyday America - Sugarland (49)
48. Time - Speakerbox (54)
49. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake (50)
50. Capital G - Nine Inch Nails (30)
51. Like This - Kelly Rowland f/Eve (73)
52. Can't Keep It A Secret - Jacinta (32)
53. How I Feel - Martina McBride (53)
54. All At Once - The Fray (58)
55. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (62)
56. A Different World - Bucky Covington (57)
57. Rapture 2007 - iio (31)
58. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (59)
59. So Far - Miguel Migs (68)
60. Fall - Clay Walker (69)
61. All Around The World - Lionel Richie (48)
62. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (63)
63. These Are My People - Rodney Atkins (65)
64. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (70)
65. If Everyone Cared - Nickelback (56)
66. Face Down - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (64)
67. Live Love Dance - Ron Perkov (85)
68. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (72)
69. I Wonder - Kellie Pickler (66)
70. My Man - Amuka (88)
71. Wrapped - George Strait (67)
72. All Good Things (Must Come To An End) - Nelly Furtado (61)
73. Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne (60)
74. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (87)
75. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (46)
76. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (89)
77. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (92)
78. Step Into The Light - Darren Hayes (DEBUT)
79. A Little More You - Little Big Town (71)
80. Stop Me - Mark Ronson (DEBUT)
81. Online - Brad Paisley (94)
82. Johnny Cash - Jason Aldean (55)
83. So Small - Carrie Underwood (DEBUT)
84. When We Die - Bowling For Soup (92)
85. Everything - Michael Buble (83)
86. Say It Right - Nelly Furtado (75)
87. Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert (91)
88. Hollywood - Collective Soul (97)
89. Love Is Gone - David Guetta (DEBUT)
90. White Lies - Paul Van Dyk f/Jessica Sutta (DEBUT)
91. 1973 - James Blunt (DEBUT)
92. Find Out Who Your Friends Are - Tracy Lawrence (90)
93. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (95)
94. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (96)
95. Say This Sooner - The Almost (100)
96. Bubbly - Colbie Caillat (DEBUT)
97. Firecracker - Josh Turner (DEBUT)
98. Bleed It Out - Linkin Park (DEBUT)
99. Just Might Have Her Radio On - Trent Tomlinson (DEBUT)
100. Another Side Of You - Joe Nichols (DEBUT)

And now for the new stuff. Eleven songs debut on this week's chart, with former Savage Garden member Darren Hayes leading the way with "Step Into The Light", His new album is a great find, try to get it on import...



Producer Mark Ronson has his first 2SC chart hit with "Stop Me", where singer Daniel Merriweather croons the Smiths song to a ending mashup with the Supremes...



Well Idol extraordinaire Carrie Underwood is descending the chart with "Before He Cheats", but enters with the first single from her upcoming album, here's "So Small"...



Dance producer David Guetta dropped off the chart this week with "The World Is Mine", but comes right back with "Love Is Gone" featuring Chris Willis, with this cool lo-bud video...



Another dance artist, this time Paul Van Dyk, hooks up with Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta with "White Lies"...



James Blunt is back with "1973" from his upcoming album...



I already dedicated this once to Sugarbear, here's Colbie Caillat with "Bubbly"...



Linkin Park make the top-5 with "What I've Done", and still manage a new debut on the chart with "Bleed It Out"...



Trent Tomlinson is back with his third single from his debut album, and arguably the best, click below to listen to "She Just Might Have Her Radio On"..

Listen: "She Just Might Have Her Radio On" - Trent Tomlinson [Link]

And finally, here's country crooner Joe Nichols, with "Another Side Of You"..



Happy dreams, sugarbear...I'll always be waiting for your call...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

You turned me out, you turn me on, you turn me loose, and you turn me wrong....

Eight songs. In this day of overstuffed CDs of half-filler (especially in the R&B department), it was refreshing to go back to an album that cut most of the chaff. In this case it’s the Gap Band, with their fourth album Gap Band IV (of course) running light on songs but heavy on the funk. In fact, until the end, this is a non-stop party machine, with three of the biggest soul songs that year. Kicking off the “Early In The Morning”, the mood is of course, more funk than substance, but the rebound track is so infectious you forget Charlie Wilson was dumped in the first place, with all the cowbell I’ll ever need. Things settle down for a seemingly reserve-time plea to sty together in the ballad “Season’s No Reason To Change”, and further back possibly to the meeting in “Lonely Like Me”, where Charlie picks up a girl to sooth his (somewhat) broken heart. “Outstanding” was the third and least pop-oriented tracks at the time, but seems to have the most lasting effect (sampled R. Kelly’s “Summer Bunnies”). “Stay With Me” is a classic pop song with a killer hook, and inexplicably denied a chance to be a single in its own right. Then comes the anchor of this whole set, the too-bodacious-for-words “You Dropped A Bomb On Me”. If you haven’t heard this song already, you weren’t at any party in the mid-eighties worth going to. Another ballad follows, “I Can’t Get Over You”, which is pretty in its instrumental start and Alpert-like feel. If it would’ve ended there, I would’ve been quite satisfied. However, the strange, annoying “Talkin’ Back” was tacked on in I guess what normally would’ve been a hidden track put 5 minutes behind the last, here it just proceeds to just seem like a goofy afterthought, going on like some sort of ignorant “12 Days Of Christmas” (while shouting “Reaganomics!” over and over . Take that out of the equation, and you have one of the most entertaining R&B albums of the early eighties.

Grade: A-
Best Cuts:
“Early In The Morning”, “Season’s No Reason To Change”, “Outstanding”, “Stay With Me”, “You Dropped A Bomb On Me”
Weakest Link: “Talkin’ Back”

Gap Band IV hit #14 pop albums, and #1 R&B albums.
"Early In The Morning" hit #24 pop, #1 R&B, #13 dance club play, & #55 in the UK.
"You Dropped A Bomb On Me" made #31 pop, #2 R&B, and #39 dance club play.
"Outstanding" made #51 pop, #1 R&B, and #24 dance club play.

Listen: "Early In The Morning (Extended Remix)" [click link to listen]


Buy: You can pick up Gap Band IV at websites like here and here.

and here's the clips...man do I love this "Early In The Morning" video.



and even better - the cheesy "You Dropped A Bomb On Me"



and this is the best I could get for "Outstanding"...

What do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt...

Well, first off, points on the name. Tennessee” Ernie Ford was one of the most popular “celebri-singers” of the 40’s and 50’s, more known for his persona than his style (you listening, Paris and Hilary?) From radio shows to TV, Ford coined the hokum caricature that entertained country and pop audiences durng the black-and-white era. Surprisingly for a long-running artist whose material has been mostly on one label, he hasn’t been anthologized as much, though that may be due to his “kitsch” factor. RCA’s Vintage Collection attempts to accomplish this on a single disc, and for the most part succeeds in giving a brief but incomplete glimpse into Ford’s work. At twenty tracks, the set is high on content, with a good representation of his down-home comic songs like “Milk ‘Em In The Mornin’ Blues” (which somehow seems to end with him loving his cow?), “Anticipation Blues” (on the rollercoaster ride of near-fatherhood), and “Shotgun Boogie” (about a love of a lady who guns). There’s some classic “railroad” and hillbilly work, like the party-time “Country Junction”, the spooky “Mule Train”, the dated “Streamlined Cannonball”, and the cornpone “Hey Mr. Cotton Picker”. And of course, there’s his best-known hit, “Sixteen Tons”, which works due to its sparse accompaniment and eerie echo while his bouncy voice belies its darker lyrics. I can’t imagine Ernie hurting a fly, let alone killing a man. Other nuggets include the cute “I Ain’t Gonna Let It Happen No More”, and his duets with Kay Starr like “You’re My Sugar” and Helen O’Connell on “Hey Good Lookin’”. Towards the end of the CD it become disjointed, with toss-offs like “Kiss Me Big” and “Hicktown”, while ignoring Ford’s big hits of the period, most notably “Davy Crockett”, are missing. You can find those on his 2-disc set or his Bear Family collection, though Vintage Collection is easier to find, and is a good listen, though don’t expect a totally complete collection of hits.

Grade: B-
Best Cuts:
“Mule Train”, “You’re My Sugar”
Weakest Links: “Kiss Me Big”, “First Born”, “Hicktown”

"Country Junction" hit #14 country singles.
"Smoky Mountain Boogie" hit #8 country.
"Anticipation Blues" made #3 country.
"Mule Train" made #1 country for 4 weeks and #9 pop.
"Cry Of The Wild Goose" hit #2 country and #15 pop.
"I'll Never Be Free" hit #2 country and #3 pop.
"Shot Gun Boogie" made #1 country for 14 weeks and #14 pop.
"Hey Mr. Cottonpicker" made #8 country.
"Sixteen Tons" hit #1 country for 10 weeks, #1 pop for 5 weeks, and #1 in the UK.
"First Born" hit #46 pop.
"Hicktown" made #9 country.

Listen: "Shotgun Boogie" [link to listen]

Buy: You can pick up Vintage Collection at websites like here or here.

And for some clips, here's Ford singing "Sixteen Tons"...



Next up his performance of "Shotgun Boogie"...

Age ain't nothin' but a number....

Thanks, Sugarbear, for making today a great birthday. Love you. Cubby.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I've been awake for a while now, you've got me feeling like a child now...

Dedication for my Sugarbear tonight...

Twostepcub's music chart for August 17, 2007...


Well, I'm happy but way sunburnt from a day at "rodeo school", but I'm chilling with my tunes for the week. This week Finger Eleven reach the top for the first time, while Plain White T's (pictured above), a Sugarbear fave, move within the top-10. This week there's another exodus, as songs by Mat Kearney, Jennifer Lopez, Jody Watley, Jake Owen, Emerson Drive, and Brad Paisley leave the chart, and Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Bob Sinclar, Matchbox Twenty, and Clay Walker make big moves. And as usual, linkmania is in effect - you can click on any artist name to go to their website (rightclick to bring it up in another window). Now please let me hit the Powerball! Please!

This Week Song/Artist (last Weeks position in parentheses)
----------------------------------------------------------------
1. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (2)
2. Rehab - Amy Winehouse (1)
3. Umbrella - Rihanna (5)
4. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (3)
5. I Told You So - Keith Urban (4)
6. What I've Done - Linkin Park (7)
7. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (8)
8. I Need You - Tim McGraw f/Faith Hill (13)
9. Home - Daughtry (9)
10. Because Of You - Ne-Yo (10)
11. Rockstar - Nickelback (14)
12. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (12)
13. Who Knew - Pink (19)
14. Icky Thump - White Stripes (18)
15. Lost In This Moment - Big & Rich (7)
16. Do You Know? (The Ping Pong Song) - Enrique Iglesias (17)
17. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (21)
18. Dig - Incubus (16)
19. Stand Back (Remixes) - Stevie Nicks (20)
20. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson (11)
21. U & Ur Hand - Pink (15)
22. First Time - Lifehouse (22)
23. Put 'Em Up - Edun (23)
24. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani f/Akon (24)
25. Defying Gravity - Idina Menzel (26)
26. Rollercoaster - Erika Jayne (29)
27. My Destiny - Kim English (27)
28. Feel Together - Ben Macklin f/Tiger Lily (33)
29. Tarantula - Smashing Pumpkins (31)
30. Capital G - Nine Inch Nails (30)
31. Rapture 2007 - iio (25)
32. Can't Keep It A Secret - Jacinta (28)
33. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (59)
34. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (51)
35. (You Want To) Make A Memory - Bon Jovi (39)
36. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (40)
37. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie (43)
38. Lost And Found - Delerium (45)
39. Whine Up - Kat Deluna (42)
40. Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift (41)
41. Because Of You - Reba McEntire f/Kelly Clarkson (46)
42. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (44)
43. Stranger - Hilary Duff (55)
44. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (49)
45. Tough - Craig Morgan (48)
46. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (38)
47. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (57)
48. All Around The World - Lionel Richie (32)
49. Everyday America - Sugarland (56)
50. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake (50)
51. Feels Like Home - Meck f/Dino (61)
52. Sound Of Freedom - Bob Sinclar (66)
53. How I Feel - Martina McBride (53)
54. Time - Speakerbox (64)
55. Johnny Cash - Jason Aldean (35)
56. If Everyone Cared - Nickelback (47)
57. A Different World - Bucky Covington (58)
58. All At Once - The Fray (62)
59. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (68)
60. Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne (34)
61. All Good Things (Must Come To An End) - Nelly Furtado (36)
62. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (84)
63. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (65)
64. Face Down - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (54)
65. These Are My People - Rodney Atkins (67)
66. I Wonder - Kellie Pickler (52)
67. Wrapped - George Strait (37)
68. So Far - Miguel Migs (83)
69. Fall - Clay Walker (91)
70. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (86)
71. A Little More You - Little Big Town (71)
72. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (85)
73. Like This - Kelly Rowland f/Eve (DEBUT)
74. Don't Stop The Music - Rihanna (DEBUT)
75. Say It Right - Nelly Furtado (73)
76. Alive - Tim Rex Experiment (60)
77. Sorry - Kaskade (70)
78. Beautiful Liar - Beyonce & Shakira (63)
79. Extraordinary - Mandy Moore (75)
80. The World Is Mine - David Guetta (69)
81. You're The One - Ono (72)
82. Cry For You - September (74)
83. Everything - Michael Buble (81)
84. When We Die - Bowling For Soup (92)
85. Live Love Dance - Ron Perkov (DEBUT)
86. Beautiful Disaster - Jon McLaughlin (82)
87. Never Too Late - Three Days Grace (DEBUT)
88. My Man - Amuka (DEBUT)
89. Lovestoned - Justin Timberlake (DEBUT)
90. Find Out Who Your Friends Are - Tracy Lawrence (80)
91. Famous In A Small Town - Miranda Lambert (DEBUT)
92. Dreaming With A Broken Heart - John Mayer (DEBUT)
93. It's Not Over - Daughtry (88)
94. Online - Brad Paisley (DEBUT)
95. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (97)
96. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (100)
97. Hollywood - Collective Soul (DEBUT)
98. I Just Died In Your Arms - Leana (99)
99. Little Wonders - Rob Thomas (89)
100. Say This Sooner - The Almost (DEBUT)

This week a whopping eleven songs enter my top-100 for the week. First off is ex-Destiny Child Kelly Rowland along with rapper/TV actor Eve, with "Like This". It seems like it's more of an Eve record, I can barely discern Rowland on here, but the dance mix is bopping nonetheless..



(here's the original video - doing her Rihanna move)



Speaking of Rihanna, she's climbing the top-5 with "Umbrella", but puts the followup "Don't Stop The Music" as the second highest debut. The remix big-time samples Michael Jackson to good effect..



Next up is singer Ron Perkov, teaming up with producer/mixer Tony Moran, with "Live, Love, Dance", which continues Moran's success with the "Tour De Beats" sound...

Listen: "Live Love Dance (Tony Moran Full Mix)" [Link to listen]

Three Days Grace is a band in the Hinder/Nickelback/3 Doors Down vein, so if you like that, you'll like their "boy-band grunge" of "Never Too Late"...



Amuka, aka Sheila Brody, comes back to the list with "My Man". It's in the same bitchy mode as "Appreciate Me" though not at crazy-catchy. Here's a short short clip of her performing the song at a dance club..



Listen: "My Man (Klubjumpers Remix}" [Link to listen]


Justin Timberlake never ceases to amaze. For a mainstream pop artist, he doesn't cut crap. here he is with "Lovestoned"...



Miranda Lambert can rock your socks off, if she's not setting fire to your cheating ass. She turns it down a notch was the corny but cute "Famous In A Small Town"..



If rumors are true, John Mayer can't be too much "Dreaming With A Broken Heart", here live from New York City..



Brad Paisley is a fave of mine, especially his comic numbers, but this hasn't totally won me over yet, though it's not as awful as I thought. Here's "Online"...



Collective Soul's back with the breezy summertime jingle, "Hollywood". Not as infectious as their last album, but does the trick to try to give them airplay in the post-wave movement. Here goes a fan video using clips from the "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff "Private Practice"..



and finally, The Almost, with "Say This Sooner", a rock hybrid in the All American Rejects vein.



Save drive, sugarbear, the light's on for ya...

He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman like you imagined...


First, he proclaims they have the best album ever coming out. Next, he disses Green Day and anyone who is in his view “anti-American” (read anti-Bush). Brandon Flowers gives a lot of reasons for me to hate his band, despite my liking for feminine post-wave rock-disco stylings. But I was already somewhat won over by the first single, “When You Were Young”, and of course picked up resulting album, Sam’s Town, named for the local-yokel casino in their native Las Vegas, with an open mind. While I can safely say the Hall of Fame doesn’t need to clear a place real soon, The KillersSam’s Town is a somewhat enjoyable pop-rock piece that offers a convincing change of direction for the group. Meant to emulate Bruce Springsteen (by default, Born To Run most likely), Flowers et al feel the need to prelude the prelude (here called the “Enterlude”) with the Title song, a long, ok but sort of forgettable, descript of the desert-city scene. After the prelude comes the first of their two big guns, “When You Were Young”, where the Killers succumb to the Boss’ influence most convincingly, even to the false break in the middle of the wall of sound, though twisting it enough to direct an almost scorn to his supposed audience. The other is “Read My Mind”, which new-waves it up a notch, and telling that they chose the Pet Shop Boys to remix it. While most of the tracks do bear the Springsteen-esque stamp, songs like “Bones” owe just as much to Morrissey’s turn of phrase. Besides the singles, most of the rest of the album is mildly memorable, though “Why Do I Keep Counting” works the best, and “Bling (Confession Of A King)” and “My List” work the least. I wanted to like “Uncle Jonny” and its seemingly biographical honesty, but I wish it weren’t so muddled and “kitchen-sinkish”. “For Reasons Unknown” and “The River Is Wild” are both good representations of the band, but not notable for any reason but that. As a whole, Sam’s Town isn’t a bad listen, maybe not as enjoyable as their shiny-suit debut Hot Fuss, but a little too strained to be the all-American album Flowers tried for it to be. But for I-Tuners and the like, you can’t go wrong at least buying “When You Were Young” and “Read My Mind”, two of the best singles from 2006. (My edition had a bonus disc with 2 songs, "All The Pretty Faces" and "Daddy's Eyes", both of which are better than a big chunk of the regular CD.)
Grade: B-
Best Cuts:
“When You Were Young”, “Read My Mind”
Weakest Links: “Bling (Confessions Of A King)”, “My List”
Sam's Town hit #2 in the US and #1 for 3 weeks in the UK.
"When You Were Young" hit #14 pop singles, #15 Adult top-40, #5 dance club play, #4 dance airplay, #1 modern rock, and #2 in the UK.
"Bones" made #21 modern rock and #15 in the UK.
"Read My Mind" made #62 pop, #1 dance club play, #1 dance airplay, #8 modern rock, and #15 in the UK.
"For Reasons Unknown" so far hit #53 in the UK.


and for the clips....first of, you can really tell they were throwing every bit of hammy drama into this clip for "When You Were Young"....



next up, the freaky drive-in cheese of "Bones"...



"Read My Mind" was filmed in Japan, and fits their worldly tune...



and finally, the brand-new video for "For Reasons Unknown"..hey maybe this album ain't so bad if you skip past the fluff...

A damn penguin car, alright?

More funniness. Tanks, MT.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In my dreams your arms will find me, they will hold me through the night....



Nobody exudes unsnooty class like Alan Jackson. Since his debut album in 1991, Jackson has amassed a respectable and consistent body of work that is neither flashy nor sappy. He can master comedy and sorrow like no current singer can touch (Brad Paisley is trying his hardest, maybe too much at times). The only thing you could probably say about his work is it fits too well into a pattern, maybe not as much as George Strait, but almost a rut nonetheless. 2006, though, seemed to be a turning point for Jackson. He released two albums, neither of which fit the “country radio” mold he has followed for over 15 years. The first, Precious Memories, was an inspirational set that seemed to be more for his personal growth than profit from the Bible Belt, and in a short time later released Like Red On A Rose, produced by bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss. But rather than being an exercise in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?These Days or the Dixie Chicks). It almost seems like entire chords are discovered for the first time, as Jackson and Krauss use melodies so delicate and rare that I’m drawn in from listen one. Opening the set is “Anywhere On Earth You Are", a take on reality-based relationship, where AJ counts on his woman to take him away from the pressure of the world, all to a backdrop artfully cribbed from "Wichita Lineman". " retro-grass, this album delves into standard-style pop/country, but in a totally adult way that’s been missing from most of the best sellers of the genre (save, say for Vince Gill’s A Good Imitation Of The Blues" is a great example is AJ taking a simple formula (the blues) and transforming it to something soft and complex. The title hit, "Like Red On A Rose", is perhaps too straightforward a waltz, but it is a good representation that heralded the album, and showed that he would take a risk (in such that he missed the top-10 with his lead-off single for the first time since his first album). By far my fave track is "Nobody Said That It Would Be Easy", the song I wish James Taylor had always have done. The gospel of Precious Memories comes through on "Don't Change On Me", where instead of the Lord, AJ implores his love to stay by him like a rock. Krauss' stamp is most apparent on "The Firefly's Song", as Jackson ponders the gentle denouement of a career built on 15-minutes flashes of fame. "Wait A Minute" is a simple, sweet plea for a lover who's on the road (is he putting himself in his wife's shoes in singing this?) I know I usually have an aversion to "happy father/mother" songs (I'm looking at you, Martina) but Alan makes "Had It Not Been You", a song he didn't even write, all his own and perfectly tear-inducing in its joy. Jackson and Krauss resurrected a song from Jackson's 1998 album High Mileage, "A Woman's Love", to become his second (and more successful) single, and while it's the most accessible and "Jackson-like" track on here, he softens it to the point where you feel he's reflecting, rather than advertising, on the fairer sex. "Don't Ask Why" is a vulnerable and short love song about trust and letting yourself love. The waltz comes back on "As Lovely As You", with the same feeling of adoration shining through. "Where Do I Go From Here (The Trucker's Song)" adapts the standard "Oh Susannah", to the middle-aged lament, and where else in major-act country will someone use "capricious" in a song they sing without sounding pretentious? Finally, Jackson reprises Leon Russell's "Bluebird" to bring a lullaby as a coda. I came to listen to this album as a niche effort, but realize how much of a phenomenal album this is. Easily Like Red On A Rose was one of the best releases of 2006 in country music.

Grade: A-
Best Cuts:
"Anywhere On Earth You Are", "Good Imitation of The Blues", "Nobody Said It Would Be Easy", "Don't Change On Me", "The Firefly's Song", "Had It Not Been You", "Don't Ask Why"
Weakest Links: none

Like Red On A Rose
hit #1 country albums and #4 pop albums.
"Like Red On A Rose" hit #15 country and #80 pop singles.
"A Woman's Love" made #5 country and #73 pop singles.

Listen: "Anywhere On Earth You Are" [Link] (a special dedication for SugarBear).

Buy: You can pick up Like Red On A Rose at websites like here or here.

and now for the clips...first up is the title song, "Like Red On A Rose"...



and finally, the top-5 followup, "A Woman's Love"...

Pee your pants video of the week....

Ok, Karl...you're right, this is friggin' hysterical. I can even figure out if this is a gay thing, or just European...




Update: They have a website....oh boy. You can even "Simpsonize yourself"...I'm afraid.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The slyest rhymes, the sharpest suits, and miracles made real...

Music compilations can be a hit-or-miss affair. 80’s compilations even more so. 80’s one-hit wonder compilations even beyond more so. Most contain your usual offenders – your “Mickey”, your “She Blinded Me With Science”, your “867-5309”. I picked up Time-Life’s Another Lost Decade-The 80’s: Hard To Find Hits in the waning days of Tower Records in New York. Time-Life, while being mostly a mail-order company with all the ill repute that the genre carries, was at times very successful in creating complete, interesting, and different sets cross-licensing material that’s hardly ever found on a multi-artist set. With Another Lost Decade-T8:HTFH, they’ve tossed the “one-hit wonder” stipulation to be able to stick in a couple “ringer” hits, like top-10’s “When Smokey Sings” by ABC, (which has aged really well for the era), Hall & Oates’ “Method Of Modern Love” (notsomuch), and the Thompson TwinsLay Your Hands On Me” (again, aged better than other songs from the time). While by far none of these songs are “hard-to-find”, they are sold as being the “7” Mix” (as for ABC) or the US Mix, or whatever. I’m surprised the compilation producer didn’t spread them out more to diversify the disc, though each does lend their familiarity to the CD. “When Smokey Sings” in particular is smoothly pleasing, though a 60’s tribute opening an 80’s flashback seems odd. “Method Of Modern Love” is dorky, though not as bad as H&O’s “Adult Education”, and I almost forgot how a half-rapped lyric back then was really groundbreaking. “Lay Your Hands On Me” is an anthemic love-fest obviously set to recreate the Twins’ success with “Hold Me Now”, though with just enough pulled-back bombast to win over. There are a couple more minor hits from more established acts, like Duran Duran splinter Arcadia with fizzled single “The Flame”, which is ten-times more enjoyable as either their own or Duran’s other hits, and the Fixx’s album track “Deeper And Deeper”, culled from the deserved cult-fave Streets Of Fire soundtrack, and just as relevant as the band's other hits. The remaining ten tracks are delightfully obscure nuggets from mostly the often-ignored late 80's with one forgotten big-at-the-time hit, Deon Estus' top-5 hit "Heaven Help Me", which succeeded on the charts due to George Michael's overpresent backup vocals (he sings guide more prominently than a Paula Abdul record). Some of the songs are as bright and strong as ever, like Australian collective Big Pig's eerie take on "Breakaway" from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and another Streets of Fire track, Face to Face's "10-9-8" which for a silly chorus is a non-embarrassing pleasure. Others are enjoyable, though much more dated, like Scottish band Hipsway's faux-Anglofunk "The Honeythief", Times-Two's faux-American-funk "Strange But True", and OXO's one-note-verse rocker "Whirly Girl". But hey, I loved that song in 1983. What can I say!? A sucker for a knock-off Tubes hook? Some were just as mediocre as before, like Australian's Wa Wa Nee trying to get groovy on "Sugar Free" or the Models aping INXS with "Out Of Mind Out Of Sight" (though with the latter at least bringing a killer guitar riff). And last but not least, two real hidden gems stand out, Norweigans One 2 Many's adult-pop single "Downtown", predicting Wilson Philips and girl singers by almost a decade, and the original version of "No More "I Love You's"" by The Lover Speaks, which although eclipsed by Annie Lennox's superb version, shines like a diamond hidden in the dirt. Most of these songs are nearly impossible to find, and the CD as a whole is an entertaining listen throughout for a not-so-mainstream version of mid-to-late 80s pop radio. Much recommended.

Grade: B+
Best Cuts:
"The Flame", "No More 'I Love You's'", "Deeper And Deeper", "10-9-8", "Downtown", "I Can't Break Away"
Weakest Links: "Method Of Modern Love", "Sugar Free", "Heaven Help Me"

"When Smokey Sings" by ABC made #5 pop, #1 Dance club, #2 Adult Contemporary, and #11 in the UK.
"The Honeythief" by Hipsway hit #19 pop, #9 Dance club, and #17 in the UK.
"Heaven Help Me" by Deon Estus hit #5 pop, #3 R&B, #3 Adult Cont, and #41 in the UK.
"Method Of Modern Love" by Hall & Oates made #5 pop, #15 Dance Club, #21 R&B, #18 Adult Cont, and #21 in the UK.
"Lay Your Hands On Me" by Thompson Twins made #6 pop, #46 Dance club, #14 Adult Contemporary, #14 Mainstream Rock, and #13 in the UK.
"The Flame" by Arcadia hit #58 in the UK.
"No More 'I Love You's'" by The Lover Speaks also hit #58 in the UK.
"Deeper And Deeper" by the Fixx made #47 Dance club, and #3 Mainstream Rock.
"10-9-8" by Face To Face hit #38 pop, and #7 Dance Club Play.
"Downtown" by One 2 Many hit #37 pop, #30 dance club play, #18 Adult Contemporary, and #43 in the UK.
"Strange But True" by Times Two made #21 pop and #12 dance club play.
"Sugar Free" by Wa Wa Nee made #35 pop.
"Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight" by the Models hit #37 pop and #22 mainstream rock.
"Whirly Girl" by Oxo hit #28 pop.
"I Can't Break Away" by Big Pig made #60 pop and #7 dance club play.

And now for Videomania!

First off is ABC, with "When Smokey Sings" very well-done clip, I must say...



next up, Hipsway's "The Honeythief"...



next up Deon Estus (sans George Michael) with "Heaven Help Me"..



Hall & Oates go really tacky with "Method Of Modern Love"..



Next up, Thompson Twins with "Lay Your Hands On Me"..



And here's the criminally overlooked single from Arcadia, "The Flame"..



Next up, The Lover Speaks' original version of "No More I Love You's"..



Here's a live version of The Fixx's "Deeper And Deeper"..



And another fave of mine, Face To Face's "10-9-8"..



And here's a bonus audio, One 2 Many's awesome "Downtown"..

Listen: "Downtown" by One 2 Many

And here's a special bonus, the dance mix of Times Two "Strange But True"...

Listen: "Strange But True" by Times Two [Link]

Back to videos, here's Wa Wa Nee's "Sugar Free"...



Fellow Aussies The Models with "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight"..



and even more dopey than H&O's, is Oxo's "Whirly Girl"..



And finally Big Pig's "Breakaway", here only as a link...

Listen: "Break Away" by Big Pig [link]

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Twostepcub's music chart for August 10, 2007...

Hey boys and girls, another full weekend, and finally got to post my tunes for the week. This week Amy Winehouse spends another week at the top, while Big & Rich (pictured above) move within the top-10. This week, Erasure, Christina Aguilera, Gym Class Heroes, and KT Tunstall fall off the chart, while Idina Menzel, Ben Macklin, Dierks Bentley, Hilary Duff, and Rascal Flatts make some of the biggest moves. Linkmania is still in effect, so click on the highlighted name of any of the artists to go to their website (by rightclicking you can bring it up in a new window or tab without losing this...) Hope you got home safe, Sugarbear...

This Week Song/Artist (last week's position)
---------------------------------------------------------
1. Rehab - Amy Winehouse (1)
2. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven (2)
3. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon5 (3)
4. I Told You So - Keith Urban (4)
5. Umbrella - Rihanna (5)
6. What I've Done - Linkin Park (7)
7. Lost In This Moment - Big & Rich (8)
8. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's (12)
9. Home - Daughtry (10)
10. Because Of You - Ne-Yo (14)
11. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson (6)
12. 4 In The Morning - Gwen Stefani (13)
13. I Need You - Tim McGraw f/Faith Hill (15)
14. Rockstar - Nickelback (16)
15. U & Ur Hand - Pink (11)
16. Dig - Incubus (9)
17. Do You Know? (The Ping Pong Song) - Enrique Iglesias (17)
18. Icky Thump - The White Stripes (20)
19. Who Knew - Pink (23)
20. Stand Back (The Remixes) - Stevie Nicks (21)
21. Thks Fr Th Mmrs - Fall Out Boy (24)
22. First Time - Lifehouse (19)
23. Put 'Em Up - Edun (31)
24. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani f/Akon (22)
25. Rapture 2007 - iio (25)
26. Defying Gravity - Idina Menzel (39)
27. My Destiny - Kim English (30)
28. Can't Keep It A Secret - Jacinta (29)
29. Rollercoaster - Erika Jayne (33)
30. Capital G - Nine Inch Nails (40)
31. Tarantula - Smashing Pumpkins (35)
32. All Around The World - Lionel Richie (32)
33. Feel Together - Ben Macklin f/Tiger Lily (45)
34. Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne (26)
35. Johnny Cash - Jason Aldean (36)
36. All Good Things (Must Come To An End) - Nelly Furtado (27)
37. Wrapped - George Strait (18)
38. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood (28)
39. (You Want To) Make A Memory - Bon Jovi (43)
40. Never Wanted Nothing More - Kenny Chesney (42)
41. Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift (44)
42. Whine Up - Kat Deluna (50)
43. Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie (47)
44. Before It's Too Late - Goo Goo Dolls (46)
45. Lost And Found - Delerium (56)
46. Because Of You - Reba McEntire f/Kelly Clarkson (54)
47. If Everyone Cared - Nickelback (41)
48. Tough - Craig Morgan (51)
49. If You're Gonna Leave - Emerson Hart (49)
50. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake (52)
51. Free & Easy (Down The Road I Go) - Dierks Bentley (89)
52. I Wonder - Kellie Pickler (48)
53. How I Feel - Martina McBride (53)
54. Face Down - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (55)
55. Stranger - Hilary Duff (69)
56. Everyday America - Sugarland (62)
57. When You're Gone - Avril Lavigne (68)
58. A Different World - Bucky Covington (70)
59. Take Me There - Rascal Flatts (100)
60. Alive - Tim Rex Experiment (60)
61. Feels Like Home - Meck f/Dino (94)
62. All At Once - The Fray (73)
63. Beautiful Liar - Beyonce & Shakira (34)
64. Time - Speakerboxx (DEBUT)
65. Proud Of The House We Built - Brooks & Dunn (92)
66. Sound Of Freedom - Bob Sinclar (DEBUT)
67. These Are My People - Rodney Atkins (81)
68. All My Friends Say - Luke Bryan (88)
69. The World Is Mine - David Guetta (57)
70. Sorry - Kaskade (85)
71. A Little More You - Little Big Town (71)
72. You're The One - Ono (61)
73. Say It Right - Nelly Furtado (65)
74. Cry For You - September (64)
75. Extraordinary - Mandy Moore (58)
76. Undeniable - Mat Kearney (38)
77. Que Hiciste - Jennifer Lopez (37)
78. I Want Your Love - Jody Watley (59)
79. Startin' With Me - Jake Owen (63)
80. Find Out Who Your Friends Are - Tracy Lawrence (67)
81. Everything - Michael Buble (72)
82. Beautiful Disaster - Jon McLaughlin (75)
83. So Far - Miguel Migs (DEBUT)
84. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (DEBUT)
85. If You're Reading This - Tim McGraw (95)
86. Wait For You - Elliott Yamin (DEBUT)
87. Forever - Papa Roach (82)
88. It's Not Over - Daughtry (87)
89. Little Wonders - Rob Thomas (74)
90. Guys Like Me - Eric Church (90)
91. Fall - Clay Walker (98)
92. When We Die - Bowling For Soup (97)
93. Moments - Emerson Drive (80)
94. Ticks - Brad Paisley (66)
95. I Can't Wait - Dianne Wesley (86)
96. Better Than Me - Hinder (78)
97. Love Me If You Can - Toby Keith (99)
98. I Wanna Feel Something - Trace Adkins (DEBUT)
99. I Just Died In Your Arms - Leana (DEBUT)
100. Living Our Love Song - Jason Michael Carroll (DEBUT)

There are eight debuts this week, starting with two high ones - first for dance collective Speakerbox with "Time"...



Next up French dance superstar Bob Sinclar with his fourth single on here, "Sound Of Freedom"...



It's a dance-style week, with San Franciscan Miguel Migs having the third highest debut with "So Far"...

Listen: "So Far" by Miguel Migs [Link]

Rob Thomas is still hanging on with his latest single, "Little Wonders", while his band's new single, "How Far We've Come", enters the chart...



American Idol has put a lot of singers on here, the latest being Elliott Yamin with "Wait For You"...



Country baritone Trace Adkins enters with his latest, "I Wanna Feel Something"...



Dance Diva Leana's remake of the Cutting Crew's "I Just Died In Your Arms" debuts...

Listen: "I Just Died In Your Arms" by Leana [Link]

And finally Jason Michael Carroll follows up "Alyssa Lies" with "Living Our Love Song"...