RECORD OF THE YEAR
In 2006, I've purchased a number of cds - legitimately, I might add! Some were from the brick & mortars, but about half were through iTunes. Until this year, I had never bought an entire disk off of the site - only individual songs here and there.
From the 15 or so disks I've shelled out cash for this year, I thought since I do an album of the month, it only stands to reason I do an album of the year.
The Chicks get the nod for 2006. Hands down.
I can only say I was ever a half-fan. On each cd, half their music was good and half was just ok....sometimes not even that. But they kind of won me over on this record. And though I'd like to talk about the music and not "the incident", but the Chicks make that a tad bit difficult.
Musically, the songs on Taking the Long Way are very strong - or most of them (Honestly, I skip right over "Lullabye" and "I Hope"). Yeah, regarding the comment, they went for the dig with "Not Ready to Make Nice", but it works. There is stronger material on the disk, but unfortunately radio would never hear it. The pseudo title song, "The Long Way Around" is possibly the best they have done in their career. Songwriting, harmonies and vocal arrangements are tight!
I don't care what the press releases led anyone to believe, Taking the Long Way is not a radical departure from their previous albums. Rick Rubin's production is solid, but he doesn't greatly deviate from their style. How can he when fiddle, banjo and guitar are your mainstays? The songs weren't that serviceable to non-country radio (I love "Lubbock or Leave It" - but how is that gonna play on MOR or AOR radio?) and country radio wasn't gonna touch it, well, because they are small minded.
Some songs stand out instantly - like "Voice Inside My Head", "The Long Way Around", "Everybody Knows" and "Not Ready..". As with a number of their other disks, I had to do mutliple listens before appreciating some of their songs - this cd is no exception. I've come to really like "Lubbock" "Favorite Year" and "Easy Silence".
On a the non-musical side, I love how they have carried themselves. True, they might have gotten more mileage out of this disk if "Not Ready.." wasn't the lead single. It opened old wounds with radio - but on the other hand, there was no way to avoid it. They went in with all guns blazing. And it probably hurt their sales with less than 2 million sold vs the over 10 million sold for each of their first two disks (and 6 million for their last, when 'the' comment was made).
I do love that they are also up for five Grammys (though it's an award I think holds very little merit) - and some of them are for Country album and song of the year. Wouldn't it just kill Nashville if they won?
For fun - you should read the amazon reviews of this disk...especially the one star and five star ratings. Almost none of them are based on the disk or music - just political rants.
My (very close) runner-up: Rosanne Cash's Black Cadillac.
What's your favourite disk from 2006?