Friday, January 13, 2006

Bruce Elder Watch #6534

Crossposted at HickoryWind.

Review of Dwight Yoakam Live from Austin TX in the Metro section of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

You need a good understanding of country music to appreciate how radical Dwight Yoakam is. To the untutored ear he just sounds like a typical "yee-hah" down-home performer. In fact, this concert, recorded for a TV show in 1988, is a powerful assertion of Tex Mex and Californian Honky Tonk. Yoakam demonstrates that country can be raw and edgy, rather than just sentimental rural mush.

(3 out of 5 stars)

OK, so putting aside the downright confusing bits ... ie Dwight's not radical when he's easily placed in a long and popular tradition of the genre. Non-Nashvegas maybe but I don't think those are the same things. And what is the "untutored ear?" Even the sad masses without a "good understanding of country music" must be able to spot the difference between Dwight and Faith Hill when placed next to each other.

My main whinge today though is one I've made many times before. Why -- especially in a capsule review with less than 50 words to play with -- must every artist identified with country carry the burden of the most commercial and/or least affecting segment of the genre?

Why waste your words on "sentimental rural mush"(tho' I think me and Bruce might disagree about the definition of that too) when you could more usefully refer to Buck Owens? Or actually tell us about the bloody CD? In the many complimentary articles popping up recently about, say, Antony and the Johnsons no one says: "He proves not all pop music is sentimental Mariah Carey mush." He gets to be judged on his own merits, or refered to in context with similar artists. No one says "U2 proves rock music does not begin and end with Nickleback." Iggy Pop does not have to take responsibility for Good Charlotte.

Every country singer however has to forever answer for Achy Breaky Heart.

Anyway, I have the CD myself. Five stars! In your face Elder.

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