Kaz’s Fave 100 American (and some Canadian) Country Music Albums in my lifetime

Yo folks, well, I have been delaying this. While this was not as hard, in some ways, as compiling my Australian Country Music Top 100, it certainly has been tough. I have tried to leave Greatest Hits albums out, though some have filtered through. I stress that this is in my lifetime – 1963-2019 and therefore, there are a lot of good ones from before this time – Hank Williams, for example, that I have left out. Patsy just snuck in.

There were a few beauties that just missed the cut and could really easily fit in to this 100. This is purely based on my taste and of course, I have excellent taste! Apart from the no. 1 album, any of these albums could feature in any of these positions, I love all of them. I have said many times that the number 1 album is my favourite. It is the album from the Americas that I play the most. Some may surprise you, others definitely won’t, if you know my taste. So, here are she be, a totally biased, 100.

  1. There’s More Where That Came From – Lee Ann Womack
  2. The Austin Sessions – Kris Kristofferson
  3. I Still Believe In You – Vince Gill
  4. Old 8 x 10 – Randy Travis
  5.  Come On, Come On – Mary Chapin Carpenter
  6. Days Gone By – James House
  7. Long Stretch of Lonesome – Patty Loveless
  8. Back Home Again – John Denver
  9. Love Songs – Tanya Tucker
  10. Three Chords and The Truth – Sara Evans
  11. Nashville Skyline – Bob Dylan (featuring Johnny Cash)
  12.  Everywhere – Tim McGraw
  13. Guitars and Cadillacs – Dwight Yoakam
  14. Road Tested – Bonnie Raitt and Friends
  15. Lead On – George Strait
  16. See If I Care – Gary Allan
  17. Thinkin’ About You – Trisha Yearwood
  18. The Hard Way – Clint Black
  19.  Double Live – Garth Brooks
  20. The Restless Kind – Travis Tritt
  21. For My Broken Heart – Reba McEntire
  22. Real Man – Billy Dean
  23. Photographs and Memories – Jim Croce
  24. Sweet Talk and Good Lies – Heather Myles
  25. Alabama Song – Allison Moorer
  26.  Old Enough to Know Better – Wade Hayes
  27. Songs From The Movie – Mary Chapin Carpenter
  28. Drive – Alan Jackson
  29. Cage the Songbird – Crystal Gayle
  30. Always and Forever – Randy Travis
  31. Let’s Keep it That Way – Anne Murray
  32.  Blame The Vain – Dwight Yoakam
  33.  Rumour Has It – Reba McEntire
  34.  The Song Remembers When – Trisha Yearwood
  35. Ten Feet Tall and Bullet Proof – Travis Tritt
  36. Revelation – Joe Nichols
  37. Did I shave my legs for this? Deana Carter
  38. Greatest Hits – Pam Tillis
  39.  Van Lear Rose – Loretta Lynn
  40. Blue Kentucky Girl – Emmylou Harris
  41. Acoustic Sessions – Rodney Crowell
  42. Walk The Line (Studio Album – 1964 ) Johnny Cash
  43. Lee Ann Womack – Lee Ann Womack
  44. Civil War – Nashville Sessions – Various
  45.  The Best Of – Don Williams
  46.  Sweet Dreams Soundtrack – Patsy Cline
  47.  A Thousand Winding Roads – Joe Diffie
  48.  Easy Come, Easy Go – George Strait
  49.  The Grass Is Blue – Dolly Parton
  50.  Cass County – Don Henley
  51. The Eagles Greatest (Blue Cover)
  52.  Infamous Angel – Iris DeMent
  53. When The Wrong One Loves You Right – Wade Hayes
  54.  Back To Me – Kathleen Edwards
  55.  The Road Goes On Forever – The Highwaymen
  56.  Storms of Life – Randy Travis
  57.  LIVE – Alison Krauss and Union Station
  58.  The Best of Collin Raye – Collin Raye
  59.  GP/Grievious Angel – Gram Parsons
  60.  I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
  61.  Sunday Morning To Saturday Night – Matraca Berg
  62. Stranger Than The Truth – Reba McEntire
  63.  Souvenirs – John Prine
  64.  She Remembers Everything – Rosanne Cash
  65.  Greatest Hits – Beth Nielsen Chapman
  66.  The Late Great….. – Townes Van Zandt
  67.  Goodbye Girl – David Gates
  68.  Trio – Linda, Dolly and Emmylou
  69.  Wide Open Spaces – The Dixie Chicks
  70.  Car Wheels on A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
  71.  Between Now and Forever – Bryan White
  72.  Keepers: Greatest Hits – Tracy Byrd
  73.  8 Seconds Soundtrack – Various
  74.  Full Circle – Loretta Lynn
  75.  Born To Fly – Sara Evans
  76.  The Key – Vince Gill
  77.  Simple Dreams – Linda Ronstadt
  78.  Let Them Be Little – Billy Dean
  79.  Colvin and Earle – Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle
  80.  Some Days Are Diamonds – John Denver
  81.  4.5 – Indigo Girls
  82.  Highways and Heartaches – Wade Hayes
  83.  Tarpaper Sky – Rodney Crowell
  84.  What I Do Best – John Michael Montgomery
  85.  The Travelling Kind – Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris
  86.  Love and Honour – Ricky Van Shelton
  87.  Solid Ground – Ricky Skaggs
  88.  Duets – Reba and Friends
  89.  Adios – Glen Campbell
  90.  Country Music – Marty Stuart
  91.  Same Trailer, Different Park – Kacey Musgraves
  92.  Girl Going Nowhere – Ashley McBryde
  93.  The Thorns – The Thorns
  94.  Greatest Hits – Martina McBride
  95.  The Lonely, The Lonesome and The Gone – Lee Ann Womack
  96.  Blade – Ashley Monroe
  97.  Part II – Brad Paisley
  98.  Django and Jimmie – Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
  99.  Everywhere We Go – Kenny Chesney
  100.  Come On Over – Shania Twain.
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Totally Biased Fan Review: Think I’ll Carry It On – Richard Lynch

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Australia’s biggest fan of Richard Lynch is Leonie McClure. To be honest, I don’t think that I would have heard about Richard if it hadn’t been Leonie playing Richard (just once or twice…..) on 2RRR.

I have heard a lot of the songs on this album before because Leonie has played them a few times and I am already fairly familiar with them. My favourite of the songs that she has played is Pray on the Radio and it is probably still my favourite after listening to the full album, but there is a lot here to love.

If you are a fan of Alan Jackson, George Strait and George Jones, and a touch of John Michael Montgomery, then you will love this. All of the songs are original, but they have that old comfortable slipper on the foot feeling like those other male artists.

Although there are officially 79 types of country music, when the chips are on the table, it is always going to be a strong pull back to what many call “real country”. I guess that Richard’s music is in that same groove of the 90’s kind of country sound, rather than any earlier times, and that is my favourite era of country music.

There is no doubt that there is an element of God Bless America, and considering where the music and the heart is, then so it should be in this album.

Richard’s voice is strong and deep and true. The guitars twang in all of the right places and the words ring true to type and fashion. There is a lot of reminiscing on this album, with songs like Back in 1953 (one of my other favourites), The Old Feed Store, You Can’t Stay Here, Daddy’s Guitar and They Don’t Play ‘Em like that, reflecting that feeling.

My young American friend, Buck Ford, sings a similar tune, keeping the rich country sound alive and spreading the word about what that flavour of music values and appreciates most.

This music and the way that Richard delivers it, is honest and tells it like it is. It is feel good music that makes you happy and makes you feel and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Thank you Leonie for introducing me to Richard’s music. I hope to be able to spread the word a bit too.

Have a dance or two, a drink or two and just relax and listen to some good ol’ country music.

Tracks:

We’re American Proud (Richard Lynch)

Love Tattoo with Ronnie McDowell (Richard Lynch, Charles Brisbin and Terry Dennis)

Pray On the Radio (Richard Lynch)

Another Honky Tonk Song with Leona Williams (Richard Lynch)

You can’t stay here (Richard Lynch)

The old feed store (Richard Lynch and Timothy Bennington)

Back in 1953 (Richard Lynch, Timothy Bennington and Robert Lynch)

Keyboard Cowboy with Donna Lynch (Richard Lynch and Donna Lynch)

Fast Times and Easy Money (Richard Lynch)

Daddy’s Guitar (Richard Lynch)

One Breath Away (Richard Lynch)

They Don’t Play ‘Em Like That (Richard Lynch and Timothy Bennington)

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: I Wish You Enough – Wendy Wood – E.P.

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Without a doubt, Wendy is one of my closest friends in Country Music, so forgive me if I am even a bit more biased than normal. I would like to think, though, that despite my obvious rose coloured glasses viewpoint that I also have excellent taste in music and you will agree with me anyway.

We only receive a mini offering this time, from Wendy Wood, but 4 songs is much better than a single or of course, nothing at all.

Wendy and I have very similar taste in music. We love a lot of the same artists and styles. I was told in Creative Writing at uni that you are what you read, the same thing can be said from what you listen to.  In many ways, this is Wendy’s “most country” production to date. Again, Wendy has written the songs, including a co-write with Kevin Dunshea.

All the songs are different.  Wendy has such a beautiful, easy to listen to voice. She makes every song sound like a believable story and easy to visualise. Her songs always connect to people, and they always have a link to family, special places and times and to friends. The words are always important, well thought out and are beautifully phrased. there is sometimes a quirky what if touch in a song on an EP or an album, a different way of looking at something familiar.

I have said for a long while that Wendy Wood and Cathy Dobson are the most underrated female country writers in Australia and I stand by that. They are two women who understand the simple things and the difficult things and they know how to articulate these situations and make them more interesting and relatable.

My Tamworth sister has especially delivered with Library on Livingstone Street, which will not come as a surprise to those who know me and what I do for a living.

I hope that this is just a little teaser and that another album is coming soon. Four great songs to enjoy and experience.

 

Tracks:

I Wish You Enough

Would You Be With Me

Library on Livingstone Street

Little by Little

All songs written by Wendy Wood except track 2 written by Kevin Dunshea and Wendy Wood.

Engineered and Produced by Steve Newton at Enrec Studios Tamworth, NSW

 

Musicians:

Anthony Walmsley – electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin

Matt Parnell – drums and percussion

Andrew McMahon – bass guitar

Steve Newton – keyboards, pedal steel and backing vocals

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Pieces – The Story So Far – Phil Doublet

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Phil Doublet is one of the finest guitarists that I have ever had the privilege to hear. It was in this capacity that the Christchurch Kiwi first entered my country music world via Luke O’Shea and The Medicine Wheel.

Our honorary Aussie (as a dare to raise money for charity once, we made the poor man where Aussie gear and sing True Blue or Still Call Australia Home at Tamworth) we have embraced Phil as a solo artist and also with his work with his equally talented wife, Lana.

As Aussies, we have changed his name from the French sounding cool name to Double It, but that is our way of showing respect, otherwise we would just call him “Hey, you!”

Phil has been through some rough times as a New Zealander on the South Island and in an industry that can be pretty tough. However, he is a much loved member of our Country music family and extremely well respected by true music fans and his peers.

This collection proves his great worth. Standouts for me are Suitcase, Prayin’ for Rain , The Kingston Flyer, Endless Highway, Sometimes and of course, The Day The Spire Fell. Phil’s songwriting abilities have led him to perform at regular Songwriters in the Round in both New Zealand and in Australia.

I was lucky enough to speak with him recently on our 2RRR special with Leonie McClure and he was a surprise guest. It is hard when you only have a short time to talk, there are so many questions that I thought of after. We’ll just have to do it again.

If you haven’t heard Phil’s work before, this is a good place to start. Phil Doublet’s songs are about real events, emotions and real people. He doesn’t mince words, he says it how he sees it and he has a big, kind, heart.

There is a promise of a new album soon with all new material, but in the meantime, kick your shoes off, slouch on the couch and listen to some awesome music from across the ditch, Phil never disappoints.

 

 

Tracks:
1. Endless Highway

3:36
2. The Day the Spire Fell

4:07
3. Suitcase

3:14
4. Keep You Hangin’ Round

3:28
5. Gone

3:42
6. My Surrender

4:11
7. Miss You

4:10
8. Sometimes

4:00
9. Old Hokonui *

4:16
10. How Many Ways?

3:02
11. The Keeper

4:26
12. Blues Devil Live Down Here

2:51
13. The Kingston Flyer

2:25
14. Out in the Country

3:51
15. Prayin’ for Rain

3:49
16. St. Anthony

2:48

 

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review – Daniel Thompson’s Cash LIVE – San Quentin – Latrobe Valley Performance Space – Traralgon, Victoria, 22 June 2019

 

Starring: Daniel Thompson, Rusty Cochrane, Brad Bergen, Roy Payne and Courtney Conway

Daniel Thompson has a big, deep voice that melts, much like Randy Travis and Adam Harvey and Joe Nichols. Like any of these guys, he could sing the phone book and we’d all be happy. Daniel has been singing Johnny Cash shows for a while now and finally I was able to see him in a full show. I have seen him guesting on other shows at Tamworth and the legendary lunchtimers in Tamworth with Mike Carr, Anthony Taylor and Luke Austen.

Daniel celebrates the album that was recorded 50 years ago, San Quentin. A year before that, the even more famous Folsom Prison album was recorded.

Daniel performs the whole album with added cool trivia and Courtney doing the “June” bits. Brad and Rusty add the background humour and Roy plays a pretty mean guitar. Courtney got the raspy bits of June’s voice down pat.

I wore my all black gear to blend into the scenery. The first half of the gig is the album, the second half is a mixture of Johnny’s hits through the years.

Johnny Cash was very much an innovator, breaking down more barriers than his older fan base indicates. He was very much a supporter for young, talented songwriters and singers who weren’t always of his genre or traditional – he worked a lot with Elvis, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson and in later years, he was a huge fan of the new rebels and innovators.

Johnny did things that shocked and inspired. Wearing black, performing in prisons, speaking out for those who were underdogs, singing songs out of his comfort zone and other people’s comfort zones. Daniel performs a wonderful array of songs which reflect that.

Daniel sings a few songs that I didn’t know and they were great surprises, but mainly, the songs are those that we all know and love and can sing along to.

All the big hits are there, Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, If I was a Carpenter, Jackson, and many more.

The boys look cool in their suits and Courtney looked stunning too. An entertaining night of great songs and stories.

It was my first gig for a while and it was a great way to re-enter the LIVE music scene.

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Breakdown on 20th Ave, South – Buddy and Julie Miller

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This is the couple’s first release in a decade. Buddy has been busy on the road working with other acts while Julie has been dealing with a debilitating illness and severe bouts of depression, because of the physical pain and the loss of her brother, amongst other things. Rumours that the couple had split did not help matters.

What we have here is a collection of songs that Julie extracted from about 50-60 songs that she had written. Buddy said in an interview that this album is largely Julie’s album. Buddy often gets the credit because of his higher public profile and even when I was looking up information on this album, it quite often listed Buddy and did not even mention Julie until well down in the articles.

I first came across Buddy and Julie about 20 odd years ago when I bought three compilation albums – Heartaches and Highways. These albums were compilations of artists who (at the time) were not big names, and they were from both Australia and America. They are still three of my favourite albums to listen to when I want a mixed bag. The beauty of such compilations is that you can just go out and seek the albums of the artists that you like best. I “discovered” many different artists that way, and this husband and wife team was one of them.

They have this earthy, raw sound….two totally different kinds of country sounds coming together. They are singer/songwriters who cover mainly the alt. country, folk and bluesy sound. I have often heard them described as artists’ artists, meaning that they are chiefly admired and respected by fellow artists. At times it sounds like Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen are singing together, other times it sounds like Lucinda Williams and Travis Tritt. Either way it is all fine with me and they add their own unique touches, so that their sound comes out as well.

A lot of these songs mirror Julie’s mood as she went through all of that pain. Buddy admitted that he decided to ditch the other work that he was offered to just spend 12 months at home and binged watched bad tv with Julie and tried to put music aside for a while. That break fueled the fire that still burned within and these beautiful songs came out of a prolific writing spree. It is easy to pick the songs about her brother, they are probably the best ones on the album. With my own recent grief, they rang true for me, too.

Not all of the songs are sad, but they are the best ones. There are some cool rocking blues songs and those songs that exude the energy of two of the most chemistry ridden singers on the planet.

The last track just rips with that emotion. The last line is from this LIVE track – Julie says: Thank you so much, I hope that touched you – Hell, you would have to be a robot for it not to.

Storm of Kisses, Can’t Cry Hard Enough are my two favourites, but they are all different and all meaningful. They say sometimes that for a songwriter, pain and loss make for the best work, it is a shame that you have to go through that to produce this, but it was probably always there, it just needed to be released.

This is a super album from an amazing duo who breathe life into all of these special songs. Please, give it a listen, it works on so many levels.

Hopefully, it won’t be another decade.

 

Tracks:

1.
Breakdown On 20th Ave. South 03:54

2.
Feast Of The Dead 03:59

3.
Everything Is Your Fault 03:14

4.
Unused Heart 02:43

5.
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me 04:47

buy track

6.
Till The Stardust Comes Apart 02:13

7.
Underneath The Sky 05:10

8.
Spittin’ On Fire 03:05

9.
Secret 03:12

10.
War Child 04:13

11.
Thoughts At 2am 03:36

12.
Storm Of Kisses 03:07

Produced recorded and played by Buddy and Julie Miller except where noted
Mixed by Mike Poole at High Quality Recording
Mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: The Maes – The Maes

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Once there were three, now there are two. The Maes are sisters Maggie and Elsie. This album is amazing. If you like The Dixie Chicks, The Indigo Girls, Great Aunt and Smith and Jones, then you will love these sisters, as they are a fusion of all of them.

They are a beautiful mixture of blues, folk, and alt country. Great harmonies, soulful moments, songs that actually mean something and a relaxing tone that makes you mellow and think at the same time.

We are blessed in this country and indeed, in this state of Victoria with some beautiful singer/songwriters, who produce music that hits the heart and the mind and make the soul rise above the normal levels of acceptable music.

I am an unashamed 60’s Aquarian child, raised in the two hillbilly heavens of Australia and I have more of an appreciation of the new wave of country.

My friend and photographer, Darren Clarke put me on to these two and I am so grateful. I was partly raised and honed into the folk scene in the sixties and early seventies….I was actually a frequent visitor to communes in this time and hippies put flowers in my hair…this is my music, my home.

I can drift away very easily on this music. It takes me places where I feel safe, happy and secure. Music at its best makes you do this. It offers an escape that most of us need from time to time.

When I said that I was going to review this album, many of Australia’s greatest songwriters cheered and said, go for it. They all wanted to cheer these girls on.

Beautiful songs, meaningful songs and songs to mellow out to. Thank you girls.

 

Tracks:

Treat you better

Half Moon Bay

Head Over Heals

Driving Ali Through Mining Towns

Get your act Together

Sunrise

When I Found You

Tenderness and Alcohol

February Bride

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