Kenny Chesney: Welcome To The Fishbowl (Columbia)
Last week, Kenny Chesney bumped the new Alan Jackson album from the top of the country charts with his new album Welcome To The Fishbowl, his 13th studio release.
The album title reveals just how much Chesney likes to protect his private life and in my opinion explains why he spends so much of his time on his huge yacht sailing the Gulf Of Mexico and the Caribbean.
When he is not on tour, his boat acts as his muse and helps Chesney stay away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
While songs about surf, sand and loafing are getting a bit too predictable from Chesney of late, he has addressed this with several songs in this new album that are greater in depth and philosophy.
That starts with the title track, in which Chesney warns that we are all being over watched by many different factions from the government, GPS, to our simple computer network roaming.
Other songs of breadth include Time Flies, Makes Me Wonder, and I’m A Small Town where Chesney’s songs are more interesting and open to wider interpretation.
As usual Chesney has scored a big country hit singing a duet with Tim McGraw on Feel Like A Rock Star, while the closing tune is a live take of You And Tequila recorded at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre where the huge audience takes over the song and sings it back to Chesney.
As a songwriter, I think Kenny Chesney will one day be open to greater interpretation as happened to Cole Porter after he passed, but for today Welcome To The Fishbowl is yet another album in Chesney’s impressive catalogue.
Russell Watson: Anthems (Sony Classical)
With Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary on the throne and this summer’s upcoming summer Olympics, these are heady days for Britain.
I was born in the same city as Queen Liz, the same year she was crowned. My father was a physician in London’s East End working at the VD Clinic in Whitechapel, home of the poor navies and the cockney if you were born within earshot of The Beau Bells.
Anyway, six months later the big boat landed at Quebec and my father joined the Canadian Air Force for three years as a dermatologist to pay for the expensive emigration.
But I digress.
Russell Watson has released his new album Anthems with the subtitle Music To Inspire A Nation where he uses his God-given and natural, untrained voice to sing songs closely associated with the U.K.
There is, of course, a take of Elgar’s Land Of Hope And Glory with lyrics supplied by A.C. Benson as well as odder choices such as Queen’s We Are The Champions and a strange reading of Rudyard Kipling’s Nimrod—about becoming a ‘man.’
There is some traditional fare here with Danny Boy, Swing Low and of course God Save The Queen.
The highlight for me is a posthumous duet with Dame Vera Lynn with The White Cliffs Of Dover which was the signature song for Brits during the Second World War, while the version of poet-mystic William Blake’s Jerusalem is a close second.
The opening song by Vangelis and Jon Anderson of Yes is a reinterpretation of the hit Race To The End taken from the film Chariots Of Fire—a bio-pic from a couple of decades ago about faith and Britain’s participation in the Olympics from the 1920s.
A solid brag bag that anglophiles will want to check out and listen for the hidden snippet of Greensleeves reportedly written by Henry VIII.
Kylie Minogue: The Best Of (EMI)
There is no shortage of Kylie Minogue Greatest Hits and Best Of collections.
In fact, Minogue has way more of these types of albums, along with a plethora of dance re-mix collections, than she does actual studio albums.
That is because she is a juggernaut hitmaker and has been ever since her first single 25 years ago with The Locomotion, a cover of the Little Eva, Carole King gem.
The problem for Minogue is that she is very popular in her native Australia and her adopted home of Britain where she has had dozens of hits.
But in North America, Minogue has only enjoyed a few hits but none were bigger than her smash of a couple of years ago with the aptly titled Can’t Get You Out Of My Head that became a worldwide success.
That song, plus her 25th anniversary, has resulted in this definitive Best Of set that is loaded with 21 songs and the subsequent 21 videos on this two disc CD plus DVD affair.
The songs are not in any particular order and are, in fact, wildly sequenced sometimes jumping a couple of decades from their initial release.
But this just goes to show how consistent Minogue’s output has been. Even though critics initially slammed her music, a look at the current pop charts shows she was way ahead of her time.
Acts like Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Lady GaGa and many more all dabble in the dance-pop realm but few with the consistent classiness of Minogue.
This Best Of set follows her career as a singer for the massively successful Stock Aiken-Waterman production team with I Should Be So Lucky, to the dance rock duets with U.K. superstar Robbie Williams on Kids, to covers of evergreens such as KC & The Sunshine Band’s disco smash Celebration to the pure dance pop confection of much of her music such as the seemingly Madonna-inspired Wow.
A lot of this is light weight stuff but erotically charged while the exotica of the cinematic Confide In Me makes this collection a pleasure from beginning to end.