Rest in peace, Jimmy Dean.
News coverage: Jimmy Dean dies at 81.
Acclaimed Nashville artist Paul Burch, whose recent Still Your Man landed at #13 on our Best Country Albums of 2009 list, is taking an innovative approach to distributing new music this year. The Asides/Besides project he launched earlier this month will hook fans (or hip, curious newbies) up with twenty singles released steadily throughout the year, with varying affordable price packages to accommodate varying levels of Paul Burch appreciation.
The official lowdown:
On March 1st Paul Burch & WPA Ballclub began the streaming and sale of an A side/B side single every month throughout the rest of the year. For a one-time fee of only $5 fans can join the Paul Burch Record Club which allows them to subscribe to the entire year-long series. For $10, in addition to receiving all 20 tracks in mp3 form, Paul Burch Record Club members will receive, at the end of the year, a CD of the singles with custom artwork. An additional $15 level will get fans all the mp3s, a CD at the end of the year, and a personalized thank-you note from Paul!
To subscribe to Asides/Besides or sample some of Burch’s fine wares, visit PaulBurch.com.
There was considerable grumbling among eMusic’s 400,000-ish subscribers last year when the formerly indie-centric music download service enacted a dramatic increase in monthly user subscription fees in exchange for posting a few good chunks of the Sony catalogue. Thankfully, the service endured the backlash long enough to strike up another major-label deal, this time with Warner Music Group (and no additional price hike – so far).
The deal is a huge treat that helps ease the burn of the increased price, bringing with it classic catalogue work from the likes of Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Travis Tritt, Eddie Rabbitt, Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Jeff Walker and more. That’s in addition to the Dolly Parton, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Sons of the Pioneers and others already brought in by Sony and other labels. With per-track costs averaging at about $.45 depending on your monthly plan, the newly rejuvenated service could prove quite enticing to catalogue fans who like to cherry-pick. Let’s hope deals with Universal Music Group and EMI are forthcoming.
Courtesy of reader Aaron, here’s the new Carrie Underwood single, “Cowboy Casanova”:
Click “More” to hear. Review to follow soon.
Country superstars Brooks & Dunn are breaking up. They will release a hits collection this fall, followed by a tour next year. It seems that last year’s Cowboy Town will be their final studio album.
From their official website:
To Our Fans:
After 20 years of making music and riding this trail together, we have agreed as a duo that it’s time call it a day. This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed …. We owe it all to you, the fans. If you hear rumors, don’t believe them, it’s just time.
We will release our #1s … and Then Some on September 8th and come see you all one more time in 2010, with The Last Rodeo Tour (dates to be announced).
In honor of this classic nineties act, a Starter Kit will follow later tonight. In the meantime, here’s a video clip to help you get ready for “The Long Goodbye”:
H/T: Whitney Pastorek at EW
It’s time for an album sales update, our first since May 23. Brad Paisley is off to a strong start with American Saturday Night, selling 130k in its first week. That’s about 70k less than his previous two studio albums – Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear – opened with, but not a terrible drop-off, considering the state of the music market.
Meanwhile, the new studio albums by Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban are slowing down considerably, now being outpaced on a weekly basis by 2008 releases by Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.
Among younger acts with a new album in 2009, the most impressive sales are coming from Jason Aldean, while 2008 releases from Kellie Pickler, Billy Currington, and Randy Houser are showing new signs of life.
Biggest disappointments? It’s hard not to look in the direction of Martina McBride, who has barely cleared the 100k mark on her new studio set. Lee Ann Womack’s 2008 set just made it over that mark, too. Then again, one only needs to have sold 455 copies to make the chart this week, with the anchor position going to Wynonna with that total. Her covers album Sing – Chapter 1 has sold 41k to date.
Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:
Thus far, 2009’s releases have done little to fire up the charts,
with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.
So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:
Reissues and Compilations
I’ll be picking up many of the above releases, but I have to say that I’m most looking forward to picking up all of the remastered Beatles albums and the Madonna anthology this fall.
What releases are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2009?
Country Universe is sending out good wishes and prayers for the health of country music legend Ferlin Husky, who has been hospitalized with serious ailments.
Husky is best known for the gospel classic “Wings of a Dove”, which spent ten weeks at #1 in 1960. His other chart-toppers are “Gone”, which also spent ten weeks at #1, and his debut single, “A Dear John Letter.” He was the featured artist on that record, with Jean Shepard being the lead artist, and it spent a cool six weeks at #1.
Husky’s popularity at his peak was not limited to the radio dial, as he appeared in eighteen films and several television shows. At 83, he remains an active performer. Here’s hoping he heals up soon and gets back on the road, where he still has fans waiting to hear him sing his classics, five decades after he began his long and successful career.
You can watch Husky perform some of his classics after the jump.
Wings of a Dove
A Dear John Letter (with Jean Shepard)
I certainly didn’t expect to create a third Country Universe post on Michael Jackson, but longtime readers know that this site would enter an extended period of mourning should anything ever happen to Dolly Parton.
She posted a video diary today about Jackson’s death. As usual, she radiates humanity and warmth. Those who are fortunate enough to have Parton as a character witness on judgment day should count their lucky stars!
H/T: Mandi Bierly @ PopWatch
George Strait’s Troubadour has been certified platinum, his 33rd album to reach that sales mark.
How rare is this accomplishment? He trails only Elvis Presley (45) and The Beatles (39) among all recording artists.
Strait’s nearest country competitors are Alabama (20), Reba McEntire (19), Kenny Rogers (19) and Garth Brooks (16).
George Strait is one of those artists that I buy every album of. I remember being amazed how many albums he already had released when I became a fan in the nineties. It’s good to see him still going strong.
How many Strait albums do you own? What other artists do you buy every release from?