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!!