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:

Website: http://www.joshturner.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshturner

Twitter: http://twitter.com/joshturnermusic

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Scholastic’s new dvd set is a treasure trove of family fun

Courtesy: New Video Group

The most recent Storybook Treasures collection from Scholastic and New Video Group is, much like the first two collections, a properly titled set.  The three discs included in the set are loaded with fun and family friendly stories based on some of the greatest children’s books ever written.  Along with entertaining young audiences, it also educates them with stories that teach valuable lessons.  Add in original animation and a read along option, and families have a collection that will be a favorite for one child to the next.

All three discs in the collection offer their own share of fun and learning.  Among some of the most enjoyable stories included in the set are stories of a little squirrel that had to overcome his fear of the world, a group of singing farm animals, and a little dog who couldn’t bark.  There’s even a fun and insightful story of a little squirrel who had to overcome his fear of the world.

In the story of “Scaredy Squirrel”–narrated by David de Vries–audiences are introduced to a little squirrel who is scared of the outside world.  He goes through every day of his life doing exactly the same thing without coming out of his tree.  He even has an emergency kit and emergency plan in case anything should ever happen to him.  The emergency kit is stocked with all kinds of items, from band-aids to anything else that a person could imagine.  Scaredy Squirrel goes about his daily routine every day until a bee comes along one day and changes everything for him.  When the bee buzzes Scaredy Squirrel, he’s forced to jump from his tree.  In the process, he forgets his emergency kit.  But that’s not an entirely bad thing.  Because of what happens, Scaredy Squirrel discovers that he didn’t even know he was a flying squirrel.  So now, he was far less frightened of the world.  He even tosses out his emergency kit, and changes up his daily routine.  The story teaches young audiences that change is a part of life.  And change can be a good thing.  So why be afraid of the outside world and its change.  It teaches viewers to embrace life and change.  This is in itself an important lesson.

“Scaredy Squirrel” teaches a valuable lesson about accepting change and everything that the world has to offer.  It’s only one of the many high points of Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures Vol. 3.  Along with teaching valuable life lessons, the collection also entertains audiences.  One of the funniest stories included in this set is “Doby Dooby Moo.”  “Dooby Dooby Moo” is narrated by country legend Randy Travis.  It tells the story of a group of farm animals who decide to enter a talent contest at the annual county fair to try and win a trampoline.  As they’re practicing for the talent show, the farmer who owns the animals is keeping a close eye on them.  He wants to catch them in the act.  One can’t help but wonder if this story was the influence behind Nickelodeon’s cg-based movie and short lived tv series, “Barnyard.”  The animals do win the trampoline.  It’s thanks to Duck singing ‘Born To Be Wild.’  Think that’s outrageously funny?  Try having one of the judges in the talent contest being a cat.

“Dooby Dooby Moo” is a wonderfully hilarious short story.  It’s not the only funny story included in the set, either. “Bark, George” is the lead story on the set’s third disc.  It is among the silliest stories in the entire collection.  Acting legend John Lithgow narrates the story of the little dog, George who tries to bark, but can’t.  George’s mother tries again and again to get George to bark.  But each time he tries to bark, he makes a different noise.  First he meows like a cat.  And then he quacks like a duck.  Then he oinks like a pig and even moos like a cow.  Unable to figure out what’s wrong, George’s mother takes him to the vet to get checked out.  The vet tells George to bark.  Again, George meows instead of barks.  So the vet puts on a pair of gloves and reaches down inside of George.  To everyone’s surprise, the vet pulls a cat out of George.  The vet says again for George to bark.  This time, George quacks.  So again, the vet reaches in.  This time he pulls out a duck.  Then again, the vet repeats his procedure, and pulls out a pig and then a cow.  Finally after all the animals are out, the vet once more tells George to bark, and he does.  George’s mother is so excited that George can bark that she takes him out and tells him to bark for everyone.  Much to her surprise, instead of barking, George simply says, “Hello.” 

Audiences of all ages will love the inanity of George’s story.  It’s just a fun, turn off your brain moment for the whole family.  And it’s just one of so many included throughout the entire three disc set that will make it a family favorite.  Whether for such funny moments, or for the educational moments, Scholastic’s Storybook Treasures Vol. 3 is loaded with plenty of treasures for the whole family.  It’s one of those collections that will be fun for parents and kids, and even for grandkids.  It’s one of those sets whose stories are so timeless and fun that it will be a staple in any family’s home library for generations to come.

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