On the album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner by Ben Folds Five, there is a song called ‘Your Red Neck Past’. In that song the lyrics spell out the truth about this album in my life. Yes, my friends, there was a time, albeit a brief one that I too was a redneck kid. It was well before this album hit the airwaves and well before I had a taste in music all my own but, no matter how I protest that I am not fond of Country Music, there was a time it was a big part of my life.
Growing up in South Texas, it was hard to get away from the twang of the steel guitar or the southern drawl of the country singer. My father fully embraced the lifestyle at one point, cowboy hat, boots, yes even the bolo tie and sadly I fell into it as well. Somewhere out there, there are photos of this atrocity but you will not find them on this site, or anywhere else if I have my way.
It is said that the music of your youth stays with you, that it forms the basis of all that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. That is a very true statement and there are times I go back to the things that remind me of my childhood. After getting into the Grunge Movement and finding a love for the Posies as well, there were times that I would enjoy one of my guilty pleasures. One of the biggest of those guilty pleasures was Brand New Man, by Brookes and Dunn.
Why This Album?
There is something, fun about this album that transcends the country genre it was released under. Having grown up on Hank Williams, Mary Robbins and developing a fondness for Waylon, Willie, Johnny and Kris, I found an appreciation for the country music that was being released in the early 90’s which also led me to really appreciate some modern singers like Pat Green and Cory Morrow.
Where most people claim that country songs are only twangy guitar tunes covering only a few subjects (your horse, your girl or your truck), in the early 90’s there was a definitive shift in the country music style. Sure the subjects remained mostly the same but the feel of the music seemed to embrace the pop sensibilities of the late eighties with a twist of Honkey Tonk all the while reviving the rockabilly style of the 50’s. For those of you not familiar with Rockabilly, look no further than the King of Rock and Roll himself Elvis Presley. Elvis’ early work was very much in this genre and in fact helped define it. There was one band in the 90’s that could almost be considered the definitive sound of that era of country and that band was Brooks & Dunn and the album was Brand New Man.
I was given this album by my friend Grayson (the same one who introduced me to Nirvana) with him referring to it as ‘Shit Kicker Music’. I graciously accepted it along with some mild teasing. Upon getting it home, I found an album full of nearly perfect songs representing the new style of country that had begun to envelope the US. It was a pure joy to listen to, presenting a bright contrast to the frustrated self deprivation that was Grunge. It is hard to believe that this was their first album and frankly their finest work. Every track, even the sad songs, are solid toe tapping well constructed works of art. Filled with timeless classics like Brand New Man, Neon Moon and even Boot Scootin’ Boogie, this is an album that still resonates to this day, reminding me of a time when I was more innocent, before the teenage angst had fully taken over.
I’m No Good: This one has a classic feel that seems to channel some Hank Williams with a touch of ragtime to boot.
Neon Moon was one if the big hits from this one and there was a good reason, it’s pretty stellar. Sung by Ronnie Dunn, it is a pretty heartfelt modern ballad.
Finally, Boot Skootin’ Boogie. No matter what style of music you dig, If you don’t tap your toes to this one, you must be dead.
Ok, Where do I get it?
This is one that is surprisingly not that easy to find anymore. That being said, occationally you can find a copy here for around $4-$5. Totally worth the few bucks. Or, if you already have spotify, it is there as well.
No matter what, give it a shot, you may rediscover your own redneck past while you’re at it. While it is not my preferred genre, I do enjoy some country, guilty pleasures and all, no matter how hard I try to hide it. As Ben Fold Five Said it:
if you’re afraid they might discover
your redneck past
there are a hundred ways to cover your redneck past
it’s good to be back home
Late to the Game 11/12/19
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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