Neal McCoy, The Very Best of Neal McCoy

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November 28, 2008

Neal McCoy
The Very Best of Neal McCoy

Country music’s modern golden age was the nineties.   The artistry was compelling, while the sales numbers were staggering.    There was so much great music from so many artists, both old and new, that it’s easy to forget the undercurrent of mediocrity that lurked below this sea of excellence.

The Very Best of Neal McCoy is a reminder.  While even stalwarts like Alan Jackson, Vince Gill and Patty Loveless were guilty of the occasional radio filler, McCoy’s entire catalog was just that: radio filler.    While a twenty-track hits collection is generous by any measure, the songs here are so generically constructed and  paint-by-number produced that they blend into each other.   As pleasant elevator music, “For a Change” and “That Woman of Mine” get the job done, but they’re certainly not interesting enough to hold your attention for very long.

Indeed, on those rare moments that this collection demands your attention, it’s usually because something genuinely awful has occurred.    “The Shake” is as painful to listen to now as it was when it was a hit, and both “Rednecktified” and “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” are wince-inducingly terrible.

The irony is that Neal McCoy is one of the era’s finest live performers, with a stage show as electrifying as his recorded music is lackluster. For those looking to cherry-pick, there are a couple of moments here that hint at McCoy’s talents, like the still-charming “Wink” and the forlorn “If I Was a Drinkin’ Man.”   But aside from those tracks and the campy “Now I Pray For Rain”, there’s little here to recommend.

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  1. Hard TimesNo Gravatar says:

    I’m surprised you gave it even two stars.

  2. Matt B.No Gravatar says:

    I liked Neal back in the day but just couldn’t get into much. He had some fun stuff for sure but it’s the epitome of ‘radio-friendly’ fodder. You’re right about the live show, though. Absolutely killer.

  3. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    It’s titles like “Rednecktified” and “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” that help to give country music a bad reputation, whether it deserved that reputation or not.

  4. Candy AurandNo Gravatar says:

    While I might agree that “The Shake” and “Billy’s Got his Beer Goggles On” are considered party songs, I don’t understand how they can be singled out from the many other beer drinking, fun loving songs that have been floating around out there for the last few years by several different country music artists. Voice quality and entertainment ability seem to be what should be focused on, and Neal is certainly number one in both of those areas. Nothing mediocre, all excellence.

  5. Sue KopatzNo Gravatar says:

    I certainly agree that Neal McCoy in concert is electrifying and far better than anyone I have ever seen in concert and I have seen many in past years. How anyone can say his songs are mediocre is ludricous. His songs do not give Country music a bad name. Consider songs like Alcohol and Badonkadonk, She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy, etc. Those songs have no content whatsoever and are very suggestive to impressionable listeners. Neal has a beautiful voice and his slow songs have a good message in them if only people would take the time to listen. Yes, some of his songs are party songs but no more suggestive than any others out there and they are fun songs. I haven’t heard a Neal song that does not hold my attention the entire time. In fact, most every other country music singer is completely dull next to Neal. Neal is #1 in entertainment and voice quality.

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I admit that McCoy isn’t exactly a top tier artist. I like some of his stuff though: “”For A Change”, “No Doubt About It”, “Heaven”, “Wink” and even “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”:) I don’t really consider him to be a serious artist, but I’ve been known to enjoy his kind of fluff back in the 90s. There won’t be an FSBFA feature on him from me, however.:)

  7. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    PS. I absolutely despise “The Shake” too.

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