Music To My Ears
Montgomery-Gentry: Some People ChangeDarryl Worley: Here and Now
03/01/2007 - Thanks to the Southern Rock and Outlaw Country musical movements in the early 1970s, the line between Country and Rock and Roll is still pretty blurry. Actually, it could be argued that there never really was a line between the two genres, and if there was, it was a lot more like a bridge, and that bridge was called the Blues.
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In the finest tradition of bands like Lynyrd Skynryd, the Marshall Tucker Band, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, and the Charlie Daniels Band, Montgomery Gentry and Darryl Worley have released two of the most recent examples of music that rocks, but carries with it a sort of redneck sensibility that is as central to the music as the music itself. You can't have one without the other.
The essence of this music, this amalgam of country and rock, is complicated. It's intrumentation, vocal arrangement and style, song structure, and attitude. It seems as though the most intangible of these elements, attitude, may be what defines this nearly undefineable genre of music most closely. Country, as it turns out, is an attitude, and is not necessarily exclusive of rock and roll. Great examples of this fact are embedded in each of the discs reviewed herein. Track two on the Montgomery Gentry album, a little tune called "Hey Country," rocks unbelievably hard, as does track three ("Free") on Darryl Worley's latest. In fact these songs along with many others on each of these discs, rock harder than a majority of what people are calling rock music these days.
Conversely, it's hard to find country songs any more country than Montgomery Gentry's "Lucky Man," and Darryl Worley's "Slow Dancing With a Memory." This should probably be confusing, but it really makes perfect sense, at least in a musical context. After all, to this day, you'll find Elvis Presley's stuff either in the country section or the rock section, depending on which record store you're in.
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What you have to decide as a listener, then, is whether or not you can handle the attitude present on both of these releases, since musically, both of them are excellent, and leave you without excuses. The attitude I'm talking about here is decidedly redneck, rural, and red-state. I'm okay with all of these.
So here we have two current releases that share much in common, not the least of which is the attitude mentioned earlier. Musically, they both mix country and rock perfectly, and are both extremely listenable. Having said all that, there are country music purists who will hate them, and rock and roll afficionados who will feel that way, too.
For me, that's okay. It turns out that I'm one of the ones that both artists are trying to reach.
The one thing that disappoints me with both of these albums, particularly the Darryl Worley one, is that I probably won't be listening to them when my kids are around. They are both "party" records to some extent. For adults, there may be a time and a place for that, but never for my kids. Interestingly though, there are extremely thought provoking songs on each ("Lucky Man," "Twenty Years Ago," "Things I'll Never Do Again," and "I just Came Back From A War"). I guess that makes sense, since both albums offer something for everyone.