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403 Segments




Tom Jones: 'The Lady Gaga Of Elvis Impersonators'

Jones has been a pop star since 1965, when he released his first single, "It's Not Unusual." Since that time, he's remained a star overseas, while resurfacing periodically on the American pop charts. Rock critic Ken Tucker review his latest album, a collection of gospel, blues and soul covers called Praise and Blame.


Seventeen Years Later, The Blue Shadows Reach U.S.

In 1993, a Vancouver band called The Blue Shadows released its debut album, On the Floor of Heaven. The country-rock album was widely praised and sold well in Canada, but never reached the U.S. Ken Tucker Reviews the album, which has just been issued here for the first time.


John Prine: Midwestern Mind Trips To The Nth Degree.

Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews a tribute album to country-folk singer John Prine -- with covers by bands including My Morning Jacket, the Drive-By Truckers, The Avett Brothers and Deer Tick. Tucker also listens to Prine's new live album, John Prine: In Person & On Stage.


Elizabeth Cook: Transcending A Cult Career.

Cook is a Florida-born singer-songwriter who first performed on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry stage in 2000. She hasn't become a star in those past 10 years, but she's attracted a following in the industry for her emotionally raw lyrics. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews her fifth album, Welder.


Merle Haggard: A Gruff Voice Filled With Vitality.

Merle Haggard's new album is called I Am What I Am, a phrase that recalls the pugnaciousness of the cartoon character Popeye. But rock critic Ken Tucker says that Haggard's new album is neither combative or passively nostalgic — it's a collection of new songs, all of them written by Haggard, that prove how thoughtful the 73-year-old country star remains.


Peter Wolf: From J. Geils Band To 'Midnight Souvenirs.'

Wolf was the lead singer of the J. Geils Band, which led many to assume he was J. Geils. He explains how the band — with hits such as "Centerfold," "Freeze Frame" and "Love Stinks" — actually got its name and discusses his new country-influenced solo album, Midnight Souvenirs.


Making A 'Big To-Do' About Life's Important Things.

Formed in the late '90s by guitarists and singer-songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, the Drive-By Truckers hit a peak of critical success with its 2001 release Southern Rock Opera. Critic Ken Tucker says their latest album, The Big To-Do, is "head-clearingly refreshing."


Voice From The Darkness: Johnny Cash's Final Record

Seven years after the death of Johnny Cash, producer Rick Rubin has selected 10 more songs among the many he produced for Cash late in the singer's life. Rock critic Ken Tucker examines the end result, the album American VI: Ain't No Grave.


John Doe, The Sadies Rock The 'Country Club.'

The veteran punk rocker John Doe embraced his inner mountain man on Country Club, an album of classic country covers he recorded with The Sadies. The Canadian rockers and the former X frontman joined Terry Gross in the Fresh Air studio for an interview and an intimate performance.

This interview was originally broadcast on May 19, 2009.


Ken Tucker's Top 10 Recordings Of 2009.

Fresh Air's music critic Ken Tucker's picks for the best music of 2009 include songs by Taylor Swift, Billy Currington and Michael Franti as well as albums by Loudon Wainwright III, the Fiery Furnaces, and Bob Dylan.


Taylor Swift's 'Fearless' Follow-Up Album

Music critic Ken Tucker reviews Fearless the second studio album by country-music singer/songwriter Taylor Swift. It debuted as number one on Billbaord's Top Country Music Albums.


Strong And Simple As A 'Shadow On The Ground'

You may not recognize the name James Hand, but that's just because you've never heard anything like him. The 57-year-old Texan has been hidden away in the country music scene for years, and if this third album Shadow of the Ground shows his age, critic Ken Tucker says it's just that Hand doesn't care what you think.


Rosanne Cash Runs Down Her Father’s List

When Cash was 18, her father (you know him as Johnny) presented her with a gift: a list of 100 essential country songs to help the budding singer-songwriter connect with and better understand the music that came before her. After holding on to it for the past few decades, Roseanne Cash decided to turn that gift into The List, her new album.


Always On My Mind: John Doe Goes Country

Best known as founder and frontman for the Los Angeles punk band X, musician John Doe has always had a weakness for country music — and X's sound, in fact, sometimes had a twang to it. After that band's dissolution, Doe explored his countrified yearnings further, and in recent years he's turned in some eminently satisfying roots rock. With Country Club, Doe dives headlong into the genre, collaborating with the Canadian band the Sadies on a collection of classic covers originally recorded by titans like Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson.

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