Josh Turner’s New Covers Record Proves Pure Country Music Is Still Alive And Well

Courtesy: MCA Nashville

Much has been said over the years about the fate of real country music.  As with rock music, there are many who would like to say that real country music is dead.  However, artists, such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Hank III, and Shooter Jennings have proven that it is very much alive and well.  They are not the only artists who have proven this true.  Josh Turner has done his own share to prove that real country music is alive and well throughout his career.  His latest album Country State of Mind, which was released in June through MCA Nashville, is no exception to that rule.  The 12-song covers compilation takes listeners through so much music history with its featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements featured in the songs do their own part to make the record so appealing to country music purists.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the compilation proof that real country music is still alive and well and that there are those who are working to make sure it stays alive.  They make the album a wonderful tribute to the roots of country music.

Josh Turner’s new covers compilation Country State of Mind is a presentation that is certain to impress any country music purist.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The songs in question take listeners back to country music’s earliest days and even up to the 90s, which was really the end of the golden age of country music.  The oldest of the songs featured in the recording is the Hank Williams hit song ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  The song was not officially recorded until the early 1950s, but its roots go all the way back to a radio performance in the late 1940s, and it is pure country.  It is a prime example of what made and makes Hank Williams still one of the greatest country music artists of all time. Going through history some more, the record also goes back to the 1950s with a cover of Johnny Cash’s 1959 song ‘The Caretaker,’ which itself is more of a deep cut from Cash, into the 70s, with Kris Kristofferson joining Turner for his cover of Kristofferson’s 1973 song ‘Why Me’ and even into the 90s, with a cover of Jim Lauderdale’s ‘You Don’t Deem To Miss Me’ (1997).  The song was made popular by Patty Loveless.  There are even a pair of dips into the 80s with Turner’s take on Randy Travis’ hit song ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ (1987) — Travis joined Turner for the performance in this record – his take on the 1986 Hank Williams, Jr./Roger Alan Wade song ‘Country State of Mind.’ Putting it simply, the compilation is essentially a musical history lesson of sorts about pure country music.  Regardless of familiarity with the featured songs, it is a lesson that every listener will enjoy.  Those listeners who are less familiar with the history of country music will use this record as a strong introduction to the genre’s roots while those who are more seasoned will welcome the trip back in time just as much as those who are new to the genre.  This is just one aspect of the record that makes it so appealing.  The arrangements featured in the songs add their own value to the record.

The arrangements featured in Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation are important to note because they show Turner’s respect for the songs that he covered here.  Case in point is his take on ‘The Caretaker.’  As Turner sings the song’s lyrics, he does something significant with his trademark baritone and makes it sound just like that of Johnny Cash.  The shortness in the notes that he sings and the simple use of the vocals and guitar makes the song sound just like Cash’s original.  The only difference between the two renditions (other than the fact that Turner replaces Cash’s name with his own in this version) is that Turner’s rendition does not have the subtle backing choral element that Cash used in his song.  That’s not a detriment, either.  It just gives Turner’s version its own identity that still pays full tribute to Cash’s original. 

Turner’s cover of ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ is another example of the importance of the album’s arrangements.  Turner’s take on the timeless tune stays true to its source material for the most part.  At the same time, he adds a subtle extra with the use of the bluegrass influence throughout the song at various points.  The fiddle and mandolin that are audible in Turner’s take are not so much there in Travis’ original.  There is a little bit more of a twang to the guitars in Turner’s take, too.  Listening through both versions, one could actually argue that Turner’s cover is one of those songs that actually improves on the original.

Turner’s cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Country State of Mind’ is a near mirror image to Williams’ original, right down to the twang in Turner’s voice as he sings.  He and Chris Janson collectively do so much to make this rendition a full tribute to the legacy not only of the song, but of Hank Jr. right down to the famous yodel at the song’s end.  It is a full-on display of pure country music at its finest that the aforementioned listeners will appreciate and just one more example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured throughout Country State of Mind.  Together with the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of the record’s musical content doe even more to show why Turner’s fans and country music purists alike will enjoy the compilation.  Together with the songs themselves, the two elements collectively create a strong foundation for the compilation.  Resting atop that foundation is the record’s sequencing.

The sequencing of Country State of Mind is interesting in its own right.  That is because it never stays too happy or sad for too long throughout the record’s 41-minute run time.  It starts out on a relatively upbeat note in ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain’ and continues in that fashion in the record’s second song, ‘I’ve Got It Made.’  From there, the record’s energy pulls back momentarily in Turner’s cover of ‘Why Me’ before picking back up again in the record’s title track.  His cover of ‘I Can Tell By The Way You Dance’ keeps the record’s energy up a little bit longer before surrendering again in ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  From this point on, the subtle ups and downs in the album’s energies is stable right to its subdued finale, that noted cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Caretaker.’  Looking back through the record’s arrangements, their energies clearly show a certain amount of time and thought was put into the record’s sequencing.  The result is that it never stays one way or another for too long.  This ensures in its own way, that listeners will remain engaged and entertained through this aspect just as much as through the compilation’s content.  All three elements combined make the record a compilation that while yes, it is a bunch of covers, is a record that proves without question that pure country is still alive and well.  What’s more, that Turner made the choice to take on these classic pure country tunes shows that there are those who want to keep it alive once more.

Real, pure, country music is not dead.  There is a generation of artists out there today that is doing its part to ensure this is known, despite so many critics wanting people to believe otherwise.  Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation Country State of Mind is just the latest proof that pure country is alive.  The record’s songs serve as a musical history lesson and musical tribute to the roots of pure country all in one.  The arrangements featured within those songs add their own appeal to the compilation.  That is because they stay largely true to their source material while adding a subtle extra to each song, giving each even more enjoyment.  The sequencing of the songs and their arrangements puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, ensuring once and for all, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record as has been pointed out here.  All things considered, they make the record a presentation that proves pure country music is alive and well and that there are those out there who are working to keep it alive.  Country State of Mind is available now.

More information on Country State of Mind is available along with all of Josh Turner’s latest news at:




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Time Life’s Latest Hee Haw Collection Is Another “Time”-less Treasure

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

CBS was at time the single greatest network on television.  It was home to so many great shows from every genre of programming.  Sadly today it has become little more than a pale shell of its former self.  Thankfully though, Time Life Entertainment has over recent years has been bringing many of those classics back to life on DVD.  One of the most notable of those series to be resurrected by Time Life Entertainment is CBS’ answer to NBC’s Laugh In, Hee Haw.  Time Life Entertainment has already released a number of Hee Haw collections over the years.  And now it will release one more collection next month in the form of a triple-disc set simply titled The Hee Haw Collection.  The main reason that this collection stands out for audiences is its inclusion of five episodes from the series.  While their inclusion is not the first time that they have been featured in one of Time Life’s Hee Haw collections, it does mark the first time that they have all been featured together in one setting.  Even the five-disc collection released in 2007 doesn’t feature the episodes included in this set together.  And up until now it had been the most extensive Hee Haw collection released to date.  The content contained within the episodes is just as important to note as the episodes themselves.  Between the deep fried jokes and the outstanding classic country performances, audiences of all ages and types.  The set’s production values round out the package.  Considering that at least two of the episodes featured here have been included in previous Hee Haw collections it goes without saying that they look and sound quite good.  The others look and sound just as impressive.  That being the case, it is safe to say that audiences will enjoy each episode and even the bonus material even more.  In enjoying the set so much, it will leave audiences hoping just as much as this critic that sooner rather than later Time Life Entertainment will start releasing Hee Haw’s complete season sets rather than teasing them with so many compilations.  Regardless of whether or not that happens, at least viewers will have this latest collection that they will love to watch time and again.

Time Life Entertainment’s latest collection of episodes from CBS’ classic comic variety series Hee Haw is yet another great piece for anyone that grew up watching this series.  It is just as much a piece that even those audiences today looking to escape all of the dramas and serials will enjoy.  That is because it is one more example of everything that once made television (and more directly CBS) great.  It presents five timeless episodes of the classic series on three discs; five episodes that will have audiences slapping their knees and laughing so hard that they cry tears of joy.  Of the five episodes featured in this set, it can be said with certainty that at least two of the episodes have been previously presented in other Hee Haw compilations.  Even with that in mind, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  That is because of the overall difficulty of finding any of the episodes featured in this collection.  Even if the other episodes have been previously featured in other Hee Haw sets the same argument still applies with them.  That being the case, all five episodes included in this latest collection, together with its bonus interviews and comedy reels, go a long way toward making The Hee Haw Collection well worth the purchase and the watch.  This is the case regardless of whether or not audiences already own other Hee Haw compilations.

The episodes and bonus material that has been jammed into The Hee Haw Collection’s new three-disc collection are more than enough reason for any viewer to add this set to their personal home DVD library.  That is the case regardless of whether or not they already own any of Time Life’s previous Hee Haw collections.  Looking at the set more closely, the material that makes up this collection is just as important as the episodes and bonus material.  The material in question is largely the type of material of which viewers such as this critic can only dream today.  It is composed of jokes that are largely family friendly alongside musical numbers from guest performers that are themselves the polar opposite of today’s big budget TV performances.  The set for the performers is simple.  The songs are simple.  Even the performers’ attire is simple.  There are no splashy, over the top outfits that leave nothing to the imagination either from the men or women.  The jokes include favorites such as the patient in the doctor’s office, telling the doctor of an ailment to which the doctor replies: “Don’t do that!” and even playful impersonations of different people and animals.  Even some of the musical performances themselves include little jokes for good measure.  Many of those moments in question come from Buck Owens and Roy Clark.  And they will have audiences laughing just as much as the show’s skits.  Whether for the laughs from those skits or for the entertainment offered by the classic performances by country’s biggest and most respected names, all of the content contained in The Hee Haw Collection is material that the whole family will enjoy and can enjoy alone or even better, together.  That is the best note of all.  The whole family can enjoy every bit of the set’s content.  That is nearly impossible to say of today’s programming.  For that reason alone both this set and Time Life Entertainment deserve two huge thumbs up.  One can only hope that for all of the Hee Haw collections that Time Life has released over the years, it will make even more available in the not too distant future not just as standalone sets but as entire season sets.  There’s a huge, not so subtle hint to the people at Time Life should they read this review.

The episodes contained within Time Life’s new Hee Haw Collection and the content therein are both key to the set’s overall success and enjoyment.  Of course if not for the work of those charged with restoring the vintage footage none of the material presented in this set would be worth even one watch.  Thankfully though, their efforts paid off in spades.  All five episodes are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio as are the bonus comedy bits and interviews.  What’s more every bit of the material maintains its original standard definition look.  Even when played on hi-def televisions, that original look doesn’t hold it back.  Believe it or not, there are those classic TV shows that when played back on a hi-def television look absolutely horrid.  They will remain nameless here.  Audiences know the shows.  That being said, the video portion of the episodes and bonus material looks surprisingly impressive even with some of it having been presented previously.  The same can be said of the audio, too.  Considering that all five episodes were lifted from very early in the series’ run (The episodes were pulled from the years between 1969 – 1973), it is incredible to hear such clean audio even all these years later.  Together with the equally impressive video mix, the overall production values presented in Time Life’s new Hee Haw Collection make the set in whole that much more worth the watch regardless of audiences’ familiarity with this classic and timeless series.  Together with the episodes presented here and their material therein, the set in whole proves to be one that anyone looking for real television and real worthwhile television will enjoy.  With any luck it will be just the latest stepping stone to Time Life finally releasing the series in whole or at least in its much needed (and deserved) full season standalone sets.  Regardless of whether or not that happens, it still stands on its own merits as a collection that audiences of all ages will welcome in their home DVD libraries.

Time Life Entertainment’s new Hee Haw Collection is yet another wonderful piece of television history.  It is a collection that both the series’ original fans and those within this generation looking to escape the monotony of television’s current offerings will equally appreciate.  That is evident in the set’s collective episodes and bonus material and the actual material presented within each.  The material is the kind of thing that is almost unheard of today.  Simply put it is material that the entire family can and should enjoy together.  The overall look and sound of the vintage footage rounds the whole thing out, making every bit of the footage and each of the episodes in question completely worth the watch and in turn the set in whole yet another welcome addition to any classic TV fan’s home DVD library.  The Hee Haw Collection will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 8th. More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:






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