It’s that time of the year again and there are plenty of great albums out in time for the big Christmas shopping spree!
Last year, SUGARLAND delivered the marvellous seasonal offering Green and Gold (check out the behind-the-scenes videos here). This year their excellent new album The Incredible Machine has already made a big splash due to the single Stuck Like Glue riding high the charts, complete with its quirky hillbilly-rap section. More pop/rocky than their first three albums, The Incredible Machine has several tracks tailor-made for their stadium-size performances. (Mercury Records/Universal Music Australia 2755048)
TAYLOR SWIFT is sitting comfortably at the peak of the Australian Country chart at the moment (having already topped the pop chart) with Speak Now, her third and most accomplished album yet. Now twenty-years-old, she has written the whole album alone and co-produced it with Nathan Chapman (whose credits also include Jewel and The McClymonts). Swift’s songs reflect her increased maturity although she does sometimes lean towards a young-person’s-urgent-way-of-speaking-very-long-sentences-without-pausing-for-a-breath! Much has been made of the autobiographical nature of the love/break-up songs and those who follow the tabloids will have no problem matching the songs to the appropriate men in her life. (Big Machine Records/Universal Music Australia 2749395)
If it’s straight country that you want, you can’t go past 34 Number Ones by ALAN JACKSON. His debut album and first #1, Here In The Real World, were released about the time Taylor Swift was born! Astute fans will have noted this 2-CD set has 37 tracks; the three extra offerings being the new Zac Brown Band single, As She’s Walking Away featuring Alan Jackson, a remake of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire with Lee Ann Womack on background vocals and Look At Me a song he recorded for the soundtrack to the 2008 movie Billy: The Early Years. (Arista/Sony Music Entertainment 88697-786812-2)
While he only has half as many #1 singles as Jackson, BRAD PAISLEY still hits the spot with his 2-CD set Hits Alive with the unique approach of filling Disc One with many studio hits and Disc Two with previously unreleased high-energy live versions of more hits (there is only a small duplication of four titles). While neither a comprehensive ‘hits’ package or a full-length live concert experience, this is nevertheless a a great slice of what Brad Paisley is all about; fun, country and hot guitar playing. (Arista/Sony Music Entertainment 88697-75878-2)