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Pop Music Reviews : Good Ol' Boy Jackson in Same Ol' Show

November 19, 1994|RANDY LEWIS

ANAHEIM — If the music industry gave awards for niceness, country singer Alan Jackson would have a bushelbasket full.

Oh, that's right . . . they do--and he does.

You really couldn't ask for a more congenial, from-head-to-toe likable star than this long, tall Georgian. Thursday at the Pond of Anaheim, Jackson oozed gawrsh-ma'am sincerity and a Gary Cooper-like decency.

Those qualities, with a strong measure of all-American good looks to boot, are every bit as important to Jackson's remarkable commercial success as his singing or his songwriting, which are, at best, modestly above average.

Through 19 songs--by and large the same set list he used here almost exactly one year ago--Jackson steered his expert Strayhorns band smoothly around any and all pockets of turbulence. It's a great quality in an airline pilot, less desirable in a country singer. An exuberant exception was "What Kind of Man?"--a traditional bluegrass-gospel roof-raiser that came mid-show.

Virtually all sense of performance was yielded to the director of Jackson's video-heavy production. Nearly 50 screens were scattered about the stage, constantly filled with images from his music videos, home movies and, occasionally, live shots from the stage. If he didn't seem so genuinely unassuming, you'd get the idea he had a big ego.

Opener Faith Hill let loose with more vocal power than on her thoroughly unremarkable debut album, "Take Me as I Am." She even mustered a couple of gutsy growls and leaps into falsetto range during her set. But her voice has little inherent character and she did little with it except belt, belt, belt.

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