Tag Archives: Dierks Bentley

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 6: #100-81

100 Alison Krauss Lonely
#100

“Restless”
Alison Krauss & Union Station
2004
Peak: #36

A shimmering moment of infatuation chased with unease. Krauss is entangled in thoughts of her beloved but at a distance, and temptation lurks for both of them. – Dan Milliken

99 Shania Come On Over

#99
I’m Holdin’ On to Love (To Save My Life)
Shania Twain
2000
Peak: #4

A terribly catchy slice of country-pop that, true to Twain, doesn’t sacrifice authenticity for appeal – Twain simply embodies the snappy energy that pulses through the song. – Tara Seetharam Continue reading

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141

lee-ann-womack-call-me-crazy

#160
“Last Call”
Lee Ann Womack
2008
Peak: #14

Womack’s second-best Aughts song about late-night temptations is still better than a lot of people’s first-best songs about anything. Even in avoiding her drunken ex’s advances, she sounds positively heartbroken, suggesting she’d gladly make the other decision if she didn’t know better. – Dan Milliken

159 Shania Up

#159
“She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”
Shania Twain
2003
Peak: #9

Her motivation for her music has always been escapism, but I love the personal touch she slips into this one. Her late mother is the one who she’s referring to when she sings “at night, she pumps gasoline.” – Kevin Coyne

Continue reading

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The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 4: #70-#61

    The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 4

    70 Tillis

    #70
    Pam Tillis, It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis

    By the time she released a tribute to her father Mel, she’d become something of a legend in her own right. So it’s no surprise that she approached Mel’s stellar songwriting catalog as if she was recording any other studio album, taking the best of the bunch and making them her own. Bonus points for preserving the original fiddle breakdown from “Heart Over Mind” while making that classic shuffle a forlorn ballad, and a few more for hitting the archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame until she found a forgotten gem that should’ve been a hit back in the day (“Not Like it Was With You.”) – Kevin Coyne

    Recommended Tracks: “Mental Revenge”, “Detroit City”

    69 Dwight

    #69
    Dwight Yoakam, dwightyoakamacoustic.net

    Yoakam takes a new, inspired spin on the greatest hits album concept, presenting us with a hearty sampling (over 20 songs) of his catalog served acoustic style. It simply works for the country legend. He introduces some delightful new twists and turns to his old classics, and as it should go with acoustic music, the album is driven by unadulterated, raw vocals, coupled with honest storytelling – the purest form of country music. – Tara Seetharam

    Recommended Tracks: “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”, “Things Change”

    68 Gillian

    #68
    Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)

    Time (The Revelator) is Gillian Welch and David Rawlings with much of their typical production stripped away. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and banjo, Gillian sings with emotions as much as she sings notes that create a surprisingly full sound. – William Ward

    Recommended Tracks: “I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll”, “Red Clay Halo”

    67 Reba

    #67
    Reba McEntire, Reba Duets

    That McEntire is able to smoothly and effortlessly wrap her voice around eleven other distinctive voices is a tribute to her sheer talent as an artist. With duet partners stretching from Justin Timberlake to Ronnie Dunn, McEntire presents a stunning, layered mix of sounds and styles, demonstrating that when gifted artists come together, no perceived boundaries can stop them from making good music. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “The Only Promise That Remains”, “When You Love Someone Like That”

    law call me

    #66
    Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy

    Very few country artists can express pain more poignantly than Womack, who taps into a place of tender desperation with her highly-acclaimed 2008 album. The stories are deep and reflective, the sorrow palpable, and the production adeptly sparse – a potent combination. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “Solitary Thinkin'”, “Either Way”

    65 Nickel

    #65
    Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek

    Nickel Creek has been nominated for Best Bluegrass Album and Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammys and won Best Contemporary Folk Album, yet the group does not easily fit into any of those categories. Produced by Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek’s self-titled album is their most bluegrass-influenced album. – WW

    Recommended Tracks: “The Fox”, “The Hand Song”

    64 Watkins

    #64
    Sara Watkins, Sara Watkins

    Sara Watkins’ self-titled debut holds more than a few surprises, including more country influence than you will hear from any of her former Nickel Creek bandmates’ solo work. Produced by John Paul Jones, pedal steel is prominent on Jimmie Rodgers’ “Any Old Time,” performed as western swing, “All this Time,” and Tom Waits’ “Pony.” – WW

    Recommended Tracks: “All This Time”, “Give Me Jesus”

    63 Dierks

    #63
    Dierks Bentley, Modern Day Drifter

    Rife with accessible melodies, solid lyrics and a penchant for traditional sounds, Dierks Bentley’s sophomore project, Modern Day Drifter, confirmed the promise that was only hinted at on his first album. The title of the album rightly suggests that Bentley will explore the components of breaking the chains of domesticity, which include the freedom (“Lotta Leavin’ Left to Do”, “Modern Day Drifter”, “Domestic Light and Cold”, “the Cab of My Truck”) and the ultimate consequences (“Settle for a Slowdown”, “Down on Easy Street”). Nevertheless, Bentley does not stop with those themes. He also finds room for common themes as love and loss, as demonstrated in the pretty “Good Things Happen”, the smoldering “Come A Little Closer” and heartbreaking “Gonna Get There Someday.” – Leeann Ward

    Recommended Tracks:

    62 Todd

    #62
    Todd Snider, The Devil You Know

    An explosion of righteous anger over poverty with an undercurrent of joyous celebration of America’s underclass. You can never tell for sure if he sees himself as their advocate or their peer, but the songs are so powerful, it doesn’t really matter. – KC

    Recommended Tracks: “Just Like Old Times”, “The Devil You Know”

    61 Rodney

    #61
    Rodney Crowell, The Houston Kid

    After a string of somewhat underwhelming major-label releases in the 90’s, Rodney Crowell rebounded in a big way with this remarkably deep set on celebrated indie label Sugar Hill. Childhood joys and adult insights stand side-by-side in The Houston Kid, producing an emotionally rich and complicated survey of the album’s world. Such is the detail and soul of Crowell’s writing that every second comes across as autobiographical, even the ones that probably aren’t. – Dan Milliken

    Recommended Tracks: “The Rock Of My Soul”, “I Walk The Line (Revisited)”

    - – -

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    100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3: #80-#71

    The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3

    80 Martina

    #80
    Martina McBride, Timeless

    McBride has a voice that would have been as relevant in country music fifty years ago as it is today, and her album of cover songs exemplifies this. She doesn’t attempt to move any of the songs to a different level, but instead inhabits the artists’ original style with precision and spirit. The result is a pure, respectful homage to the country greats. – Tara Seetharam

    Recommended Tracks: “Make The World Go Away”, “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down”

    79 Felice

    #79
    Felice Brothers, Yonder is the Clock

    The Felice Brothers are the least-known among the members of ‘The Big Surprise Tour’ headlined by Old Crow Medicine Show and featuring Dave Rawlings Machine with Gillian Welch, and Justin Townes Earle. Melding country-rock and folk-rock, they are roots-influenced and made their start playing in the subway. While it may take an extremely big tent to call them “country,” consistent Dylan comparisons make Yonder is the Clock hard to ignore. – William Ward

    Recommended Tracks: “Run, Chicken, Run”, “The Big Surprise”

    78 Big

    #78
    Big & Rich, Horse of a Different Color

    Big Kenny’s and John Rich’s voices and creativity blend to form a richly textured harmony that is only fully realized when they work together, as is most evident on their debut album that took country music by storm in a huge way. While their subsequent projects haven’t even come close to matching the potential of their first, Horse of A Different Coloris an album of refreshing risks and creativity that has been both embraced and criticized as a result of unique production and odd lyrical twists. Songs ranging from ridiculous to philosophical and all points inbetween make this album one of the most memorable, if not controversial, mainstream albums of the decade. – Leeann Ward

    Recommended Tracks: “Holy Water”, “Live This Life”

    77 Dierks

    #77
    Dierks Bentley, Long Trip Alone

    Bentley takes his road theme all the way, crafting a concept album that both celebrates the loneliness of the road and mourns the resting places left behind by those who choose to stay on it. – Kevin Coyne

    Recommended Tracks: “Long Trip Alone”, “The Heaven I’m Headed To”

    76 Josh

    #76
    Josh Turner, Everything is Fine

    Turner’s third album is an outstanding example of a style that is deeply traditional yet still current, assured yet still vulnerable. His distinctive voice is paired with a well-crafted and charming set of songs on this album, which further solidified him as one of the genre’s leading traditionalists. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “Another Try”, “Nowhere Fast”

    75 Reckless

    #75
    Reckless Kelly, Bulletproof

    Country and power-pop collide in one of Texas’ most memorable albums in years. If Bulletproof has a weakness, it’s that its love songs and road anthems are all so damn hooky that the deeper material has to fight to steal your attention away. – Dan Milliken

    Recommended Tracks: “American Blood”, “Mirage”

    74 Chick

    #74
    Chick Corea & Béla Fleck, The Enchantment

    The Enchantment is a collaboration between jazz pianist Chick Corea and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. Full of soaring energy and technical prowess, The Enchantment blends the influences of both Corea and Fleck resulting in jazz compositions infused with bluegrass overtones.- WW

    Recommended Tracks: “Mountain”, “Sunset Road”

    73 Otto

    #73
    James Otto, Sunset Man

    On his breakthrough sophomore album, Otto’s voice is commanding and rich with soul, proving he has one of the most interesting male voices to come out of country music in the past few years. Sunset Man is a solid contemporary country album that has his voice melting just as effectively with bluesy, mid-tempo numbers as it does with muscular power ballads. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “For You”, “These Are The Good Ole Days”

    72 Jon

    #72
    Jon Randall, Walking Among the Living

    Thanks to his very lucrative songwriting collaboration with Bill Anderson that resulted in a smash hit for Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss with “Whiskey Lullaby”, Jon Randall received a major label deal with Sony. Unfortunately, Randall’s only album with them was not even a blip on most people’s radars, though not due to lack of quality. Randall’s gorgeous tenor, most closely comparable to Vince Gill’s,tastefully blends with rootsy instrumentation and solid compositions to create a humble work of art. – LW

    Recommended Tracks: “I Shouldn’t Do This”, “Lonely for Awhile”

    71 Crooked

    #71
    Crooked Still, Shaken By a Low Sound

    Crooked Still is an alternate bluegrass group led by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan. With haunting vocals and technical prowess Crooked Still pushes acoustic music in a manner similar to Nickel Creek but with a slightly more recognizable traditional bend. – WW

    Recommended Tracks: “Wind and Rain”, “Little Sadie”

    - – -

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    Discussion: Please, Tell Me How the Story Ends

    It’s pretty much an old cliché that country music artists tend to be the most personable and accessible to their fans. I don’t know if it’s technically true, but I tend to believe it myself. Over the years, I’ve heard some stories that have blown me away regarding the generosity of country music artists and I’m not talking about the highly publicized fundraisers or official charitable events. I think those are certainly worthwhile, but it’s the intimate stories that truly tug at my stiff heartstrings.

    One of my favorite stories is about Johnny Cash. His brother, Tommy, tells of a time that they were in a locker room together and he caught Johnny inconspicuously looking for the most worn out pair of sneakers that he could find so that he could slip a $100 bill in them.

    More recently, I’ve seen a story that, once again, makes me feel good about the people who represent country music on a human level. While this story about Dierks Bentley’s day with a boy with Autism (as told by the boy’s grateful mother) is long, I defy you not to be moved by it.

    What are your favorite stories involving country music artists? While my examples were serious, feel free to go in a different direction (funny, intriguing, etc.), as long as it’s tasteful.

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    Wade Hayes Six Pack

    Wade HayesHe could’ve been – heck, still could be – one of the genre’s great traditional vocalists. The depth of his baritone was matched by its nuance, making Josh Turner sound like an amateur in comparison. Here’s hoping he’ll resurface sometime soon, since he could blow most of today’s young guys out of the water.

    “Old Enough to Know Better”
    from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

    A twenty-something anthem that exudes youthful energy.

    “I’m Still Dancin’ With You”
    from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

    It doesn’t have quite the elegance of “In Between Dances”, but his spin on dance floor loneliness is still effective.

    “Don’t Stop”
    from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

    This is the blueprint for all those country romance numbers that Dierks Bentley and Billy Currington are known for today.

    “What I Meant To Say”
    from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

    Hindsight’s 20/20 as Hayes looks back alone.

    “The Room”
    from the 1996 album On a Good Night

    The single biggest mistake that Sony made with Hayes was releasing “Where Do I Go to Start All Over” instead of “The Room” as the second single off of his sophomore album.  This song practically completes the trilogy begun by George Jones with “The Grand Tour” and “The Door.”

    “The Day That She Left Tulsa (In a Chevy)”
    from the 1997 album When the Wrong One Loves You Right

    Hayes’ last big hit was also his best, as he gropes with realizing that his lover has left him because she’s pregnant with someone else’s child. (“I guess she though the truth would end up driving me away. She was wrong, but I never got the chance to say.”

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    Picking the CMA Nominees: Male Vocalist of the Year

    The past two decades have only brought eight winners in the CMA Male Vocalist race, with only two of them – Toby Keith and Clint Black – winning only once.  Compare this to the Female Vocalist race, which has brought twelve winners during the same time frame, though even that race has become more streaky of late, with Martina McBride and Carrie Underwood combining for seven victories in the past eleven years.

    Is it time for an overhaul in the Male Vocalist race? Yes and no. There’s no denying that some of the multiple nominees/winners over the past nineteen years remain the genre’s strongest male voices. Still, there’s room for some others at the table. The problem is that there are so very few of the genre’s male artists that are genuinely at the top of their game. Even most of the men listed below have had weak singles this year.

    Still, if I picked the five nominees for the 2009 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, they would be:

    Jamey Johnson

    If Johnson earns fewer than five nominations at this year’s CMA Awards, I’ll be shocked. In fact, I think he’ll earn six, with the surprise nomination being in this category. These aren’t predictions, though, so I’ll state that while I’m not particularly a fan of Johnson, his success at retail with a traditional project that has only received airplay for one single is darn impressive. Along with Brad Paisley, he’s one of only two artists I’ve listed that were determined by genuine merit, not process of elimination.

    Brad Paisley

    The genre’s most consistent radio act and the reigning champion for the past two years. In a stronger year, I would think it’s time to move on from acknowledging him in this category and consider him more for Entertainer of the Year, but he’s still the presumptive favorite in this race. At the very least, he deserves another nomination.

    Darius Rucker

    Too soon? Possibly.  But replace his name with other candidates  – say, Dierks Bentley, Jason Aldean, Gary Allan, Rodney Atkins, or Blake Shelton – if you think they made better music this year.

    George Strait

    It’s hard to make the call about which perennial favorite – Alan Jackson or George Strait – deserves a shot this year, especially since neither of them are likely to contend for the win.  “Sissy’s Song” is better than any of Strait’s singles this past year, but all of Strait’s are better than Jackson’s other two – “Country Boy” and “Good Time.” Seeing “I Still Like Bologna” sent to radio puts me firmly in Strait’s corner, whose “River of Love” and “Troubadour” brought me listening pleasure this year.

    Keith Urban

    I don’t think that there’s a stronger singer in consistent rotation on country radio, even if his material has been slight this year.  A case could be made for Tim McGraw or Toby Keith getting this slot instead, but they’re dealing with the same problem: weaker material than they’ve generally been known for.

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    Dierks Bentley, “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”

    Music Dierks BentleyForgettable. Bentley had a very good come-on song in the frank “Come A Little Closer” a few years back; this one feels like a forced effort to recreate the magic. The writing is pleasant but dull, lacking the sexual urgency that made “Closer” come alive, and the vocal is uncharacteristically flat.

    Not sure there’s much else to say, really. It’ll climb into the top five, bother me for awhile, then disappear. That’s the thing about coasting once you’re an established star: you might keep denting the charts, but you’ll cease to leave much of a dent in your audience.

    Written by Brett Beavers & Dierks Bentley

    Grade: C

    Listen: I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes

    Buy:

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    Album Sales Update: July 2009

    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:

    2009

    • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 842,000
    • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 452,000
    • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 384,000
    • Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II – 281,000
    • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 219,000
    • Martina McBride, Shine – 104,000
    • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 103,000
    • Eric Church, Carolina – 94,000
    • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 88,000
    • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 81,000
    • Randy Travis, I Told You So: Ultimate Hits – 78,000
    • Montgomery Gentry, For Our Heroes – 64,000
    • Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, Willie & The Wheel – 56,000
    • Steve Earle, Townes – 47,000
    • Colt Ford, Ride Through the Country – 45,000
    • Jason Michael Carroll, Growing Up is Getting Old – 45,000
    • Wynonna, Sing – Chapter 1 – 41,000
    • Hank Williams Jr. – 127 Rose Avenue – 34,000
    • Ryan Bingham, Roadhouse Sun – 15,000
    • Tracy Lawrence, Rock – 11,000
    • Darryl Worley, Sounds Like Life – 8,000
    • Holly Williams, Here With Me – 5,000
    • Charlie Robison, Beautiful Day – 3,000
    • Tanya Tucker, My Turn – 3,000

    2008

    • Taylor Swift, Fearless – 3,464,000
    • Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,683,000
    • George Strait, Troubadour – 914,000
    • Alan Jackson, Good Time – 869,000
    • Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 754,000
    • Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 721,000
    • Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 681,000
    • Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – 680,000
    • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 674,000
    • Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 652,000
    • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 509,000
    • Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 403,000
    • James Otto, Sunset Man – 374,000
    • Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 314,000
    • Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 261,000
    • Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits – 255,000
    • Brad Paisley, Play – 247,000
    • Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie – 208,000
    • Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 206,000
    • Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 191,000
    • Trace Adkins, X – 185,000
    • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 184,000
    • Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 167,000
    • Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 165,000
    • Eli Young Band, Jet Black and Jealous – 108,000
    • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 102,000
    • Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 81,000
    • Hank Williams III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 80,000
    • Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 79,000
    • Lost Trailers, Holler Back – 69,000

    2006-2007

    • Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift – 4,129,000
    • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride – 2,918,000

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    2009’s Remaining Release Schedule Comes into Focus

    2009Thus 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:

    New Releases

    • Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
    • George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
    • Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
    • Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
    • Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
    • Rosanne Cash will release The List, a covers album, on October 6.
    • Sarah Darling releases Every Monday Morning on July 28.
    • Mac McAnally’s Show Dog debut – Down By the River – comes out on August 4. McAnally recently scored a big hit teaming up with Kenny Chesney on “Down the Road”, and was the co-writer on several classic Sawyer Brown singles like “All These Years” and “Thank God For You.”
    • Mindy Smith releases Stupid Love on August 11.
    • Radney Foster and The Confessions release Revival on September 1, with guest appearances by Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker.
    • Chris Young releases The Man I Want to Be on September 1.

    Reissues and Compilations

    • Brooks & Dunn release the 30-track #1 Hits…and Then Some on September 8. Track listing here. The set is preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification. The new hits compilation is similar in set up to top-selling collections by George Strait, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire in recent years.
    • Wounded Bird just released 2-albums-on-1-CD collections for Kris Kristofferson on July 7. Eight albums are included from his 1972-1981 output
    • A pair of Tommy Cash’s albums from 1970 will combine on one CD on July 21; Tommy is the younger brother of Johnny Cash
    • Hank Snow’s 1958 album When Tragedy Struck is being remastered and reissued on August 11.

    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?

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