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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Raye Serves Some of This, Some of That

November 01, 1996|MIKE BOEHM

The trouble with today's suburbanized twang is that all the farm boys and farm girls who built up country music in the '50s through the mid-'70s have been shunted aside (at least when it comes to having a chance on the sales charts) and nobody left in Nashville's commercial mainstream seems to know much about separating wheat from chaff.

The crop quality Collin Raye presented on Wednesday to an enthusiastic, sold-out house of 1,800 fans in the first show of a two-night engagement at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts was drastically mixed.

The Arkansas native's 90-minute concert of polished, Eagles-feathered country had some involving moments founded on first-rate songs, but it also contained stuff so schmaltzy, flimsy and devoid of life's true earthy grit that one could only wonder how a single artistic conscience could choose so haphazardly.

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The likely answer is that there is no artistic conscience behind many of the choices made in mainstream Nashville, where Raye is a successful product of the system, having notched three platinum albums and a gold since 1991.

Ballads such as "One Boy, One Girl" and the cliched rocker "My Kind of Girl" epitomized what's wrong with Nashville's machinery.

But the highlights, especially some selections from Raye's current album, "I Think About You," showed that the song mills are still capable of grinding out good, commercial music redeemed by touches of imagination and melodic grace.

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