Do you know what PBR stands for?

First off, let me say that I’m not thinking Professional Bull Riders, nor Petroleo Brasileiro Petrobras, the first two results in Google when you, well, Google PBR, when I think of PBR. Should you think of those first, however, I’ll give you a pass and commend you for your knowledge of Brazilian oil, Silvano Alves, or maybe the lyrics from the Garth Brooks song, The Fever, “Keep your mind in the middle while your butt spins ’round and ’round.” Nope, I’m thinking of a fermented malt beverage, originally from the land of “Laverne and Shirley,” though not from Shotz Brewery.

The reason I bring this up is there was a story on the local news, and in the copy the anchor was reading was a reference to PBR. She finished the story, looked at her co-anchor, and said something like “I don’t know what ‘PBR’ is. Sorry, I’m not hip.”

Immediately I thought to myself, “Who doesn’t know what PBR is?”, and then I thought, “Probably a lot of people I suppose, especially folks not from the midwest.” Then I thought, “Who uses the term ‘hip’ anymore?” I think a lot to myself, sometimes.

The news anchor didn’t know what PBR stood for, and so I plight: Do you know what PBR stands for?

That’s it for this plight! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

The Life of Chris Gaines

Artist: Chris Gaines (Garth Brooks)
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: Capitol Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

CD reviews are weird enough for me to write sometimes because usually it’s simply I like the CD or I don’t. I hate getting all “this latest CD could be the defining CD of this band’s career,” or other crap like that. A concert experience has a story to tell, a movie has a plot to write about, but a CD, for me, is simply do I like listening to it, or in the worst case, do I think the fans of the band will like listening to it. Because of this I sometimes put off reviewing CD’s that come to the Entertainment Ave! mailbox, although I am trying to drop this habit. So, to start the breaking of this habit, what CD do I decide to resurrect my CD reviewing skills? Well, probably the weirdest CD I’ve ever had to review, or maybe even listen to, and that CD is, well, you know what, I’m already confused what to call it because here are the choices I have:

  • The CD booklet and press “biography” of Chris Gaines call the CD: “Garth Brooks in… The Life of Chris Gaines”
  • The CD booklet also has on the reverse side: “Chris Gaines – Greatest Hits”
  • The CD will sit in its jewel case on my rack showing “Chris Gaines – Greatest Hits”
  • The NBC press release as well as the Billboard tear sheet call it “Garth Brooks… In The Life of Chris Gaines”
  • And finally, the Capitol Records press release simply calls it “In the Life of Chris Gaines.”

So, you know what? Screw it. I’m going to try to put aside the fact that this CD is put out by Garth Brooks and really try to base this review if I had just gotten a CD by some dude called Chris Gaines who now has a greatest hits CD out even though I haven’t heard any of his songs on my radio station. What the hell, if Garth can take on the role of Chris Gaines than I can take the role of a dude who has never heard of him. I guess I’m nutty like this sometimes. So, here’s my mostly fake history of finding out about Chris Gaines with a real review the CD.

The Dude on the Right’s review of Chris Gaines – “Greatest Hits.”
The other day I’m checking the mail here at Entertainment Ave!, opening up the assorted CD’s of bands that most of you have never heard of, when I see a greatest hits CD. It was from this dude called Chris Gaines and I say to myself “Self, who is Chris Gaines and what songs did he have that he could put together a greatest hits CD?” I mean, I remember some greatest hits CD’s from bands who had at least a couple of hits, like that last Fine Young Cannibals CD, but they usually didn’t warrant the greatest hits title at all. What about this dude who I have never heard of? How did I miss the 11 supposed greatest hits of the 13 on this CD?

So, I did some checking and supposedly Chris Gaines has had a string of hits on his own, as well as with his previous band, Crush, beginning back around 1985. He’s had his share of tragedy, and quite honestly from his press release he’s about ready for a VH1 “Behind the Music” special with the only thing missing being a drug or alcohol addiction. He’s had a string of # 1’s, and maybe you’ve heard some of them, but like I said before, none of the songs rang a bell. In any case I thought “What the hell, let’s give it a listen.”

I’ve got to be honest that the first time I listened to this CD, well, I didn’t really care for it. It was alright, I thought, the songs being mostly pop with some funkier songs thrown in for good measure, but it wasn’t that bad so I gave it a few more listens and it grew on me. Catchy choruses, some love songs, and I could sort of see some of these songs hitting the charts. Songs like “That’s the Way I Remember It” and “Unsigned Letter” had me singing along by the third listen, and I could almost hear the Backstreet Boys doing a song like “Driftin’ Away” with the harmonizing going on. A lot of the songs had me thinking of other bands, ranging from The Beatles to The Alan Parsons Project to Bread. Yea, that’s right, I said Bread. And with that comment I’ve got to say some of the songs were just of the generic ballad variety, the new song “Lost in You” coming to mind. I’m not saying it’s bad, so you Chris Gaines fans don’t get in all a tizzy, but to me it seemed generic, although I do have to admit I did find myself singing along.

What did kind of surprise me was that none of the songs really hit the rock and roll side. Some were close, mixing more funk than rock on something like “Snow in July” and “White Flag,” and maybe there are some songs on his earlier CD’s that really rock, but this CD is stuck on ballad and pop. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I guess I just expected a little more, although thinking about it these types of songs are usually the hit variety.

In any case I can honestly say that I’m liking this CD a little more with every listen, especially “Main Street,” reminding me of a cross between Dylan and Springsteen, and the song “Maybe” which I, well, just, well, liked.

In all honesty I’m not sure how all of these songs were hits, but for someone who has never heard of Chris Gaines before, well, this greatest hits CD sounds like a good start. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for some of those earlier CD’s as well as for his upcoming CD, “The Lamb,” which ties in with his movie coming out.

In the end I give Chris Gaines’ “Greatest Hits” CD an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. It’s pretty solid with a couple of songs I’m not sure how they made it as hits, but others help make up for it.

That’s it for this one!! I’m The Dude on the Right!!! L8R!!

The Ultimate Hits

Artist: Garth Brooks
Listenability Scale: 99%
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

As I’m starting to get excited about seeing Garth Brooks in concert on November 14th (my review of that concert will probably posted over the weekend of the 17th), I thought I would get a head start by getting Garth’s latest CD, “The Ultimate Hits,” so that I would be familiar with the new songs, and I find myself, again, in a weird spot of reviewing a greatest hits type collection (my last one was of Matchbox Twenty’s “Exile on Mainstream”). For the Matchbox Twenty collection I was duly impressed by their ratio of “new songs” to “greatest hit songs” was at a whopping 35-39% depending on the version you bought, and although Garth’s “The Ultimate Hits” is at a ratio of about 12% (I’m ignoring the two, blank tracks), but with the fact that if you shop fast you can get 34 songs and a DVD filled with over two hours of videos for under $15 bucks. Even then, just for the four songs and DVD of videos, the $15 bucks is well worth the cost of getting redundant copies of songs you already own, and you know what, when you rip them to your iPod, now you’ve got a higher rate of getting some great Garth Brook’s songs blasting through your shuffle play.

In any case, “The Ultimate Hits” spans all of Garth Brook’s career, with the songs that were hits (duh?), and as I took a listen I was amazed as I remembered every lyric, even filling in parts from “live shows” like “God bless Chris LeDoux!”, and remembered how a lot of Garth’s songs brought back tons of memories through a lot of years. And those were just the old songs! I could go through the entire track listing, but why? Pretty much if the song was any kind of radio hit for Garth, well, it’s on the two audio CD’s included with this collection. I was a little more interested in the four new songs, or I suppose I should say three new songs and a bonus track (I still never really understood the bonus track thing, especially with the two “blank” tracks before, and in this case the bonus song is “Leave A Light On”), and I have to say that the DVD is really what sold me on the new songs.

The reason I say that the DVD sold me on the new songs is that, like most CD’s, I listen to them in the background, and as the new songs came around I was sort of like “I guess that’s okay?” and then the next hit song would play, and I would sing along while I was doing things.  Then, as much as I was indifferent to the DVD, I popped it in my player, and I quickly realized that I’ll now have to do a review of it separately (God, that video of “Much Too Young…” brought back some wacky memories), but as I scanned through the videos I eventually got to the video for “More Than a Memory,” and suddenly, like most Garth songs, the song finally hit home. I will say I’m not a huge fan of the duet with Huey Lewis covering “Workin’ For A Livin’, although that might go back to some tortured days in college when one of my nicknames was “Huey Lewis Lips,” but “Midnight Sun” got me right back to knowing Garth can be fun, and how fun would it actually be to see Garth and the boys doing a concert in a bar? But the new, or rather bonus song, that hit me first was “Leave A Light On,” sans video, (and there isn’t one on the DVD), because it seems to touch on how Garth is always able to convey emotions, how a song can build to a crescendo, keeping you with it until the end.

If you are a huge Garth Brook’s fan you probably own 30 of the songs on “The Ultimate Hits,” and you probably have copies, or bootlegs, of some of the videos on the included DVD, but as Garth has always been about his fans, for the price, this two audio disc with some new stuff and a bonus DVD is way worth the price. I now have three new Garth songs I really like in my music library, and fine, I’ll add the Huey Lewis cover (even if I still have Huey’s lips), so I’ll be giving Garth Brook’s “The Ultimate Hits” a 99% on the Entertainment Ave! Listenability Scale. He loses 1% because my ultimate Garth hit is “The Red Strokes.” Sometimes I’m petty like that for a CD review. Hey, at least he also includes the “Dr. Pepper Commercial” song! Ah, screw it, 100%. I realized I still love Garth songs, again, even if my “Ultimate” hits aren’t really on this CD.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!