Totally Hits

Pop music ranges widely, from rap and country to rock and bubblegum synthesizer dance music. The latest edition of Warner Bros.' Totally Hits series, Totally Hits 2004 Vol. 2, includes all of those forms and more on one disc, though it's weighted heavily toward urban soul sounds.

Featuring 20 tracks, the collection ranges from the smooth croons of Alicia Keys on "If I Ain't Got You" to the cool urban touch of Outkast's "Roses" and the faster raps of Twista's "Overnight Celebrity."

On the pop-rock side are tracks from Avril Lavigne, Jet, Alanis Morissette and the punchy upbeat pop of Maroon 5's "This Love" and Ryan Cabrera's "On the Way Down" (produced by the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls). The disc also includes tracks by Brandy, Cassidy, Monica and Big & Rich, and ends with Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett's "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."


 

Southern RockSpeaking of country, the Bulletproof label has just released Southern Rock Country Style, a collection of classic Southern rock anthems of the '70s and '80s (like Lynyrd Skynryd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself"), performed by current country artists.

So you get Charlie Daniels handling "Sweet Home," Tracy Byrd singing Ozark Mountain Daredevils' "If You Wanna Get to Heaven," Mark Chestnutt singing the Marshall Tucker Band's "Heard It in a Love Song" and Mark Wills singing Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."

You also get Brad Wolf singing the Black Crowes' "Jealous Again," Dusty Drake handling .38 Special's "Hold on Loosely" and Hank Williams Jr. singing Lynyrd Skynryd's "Tuesday's Gone."

All of the artists stay fairly true to the original arrangements of the songs, which begs the question of why this collection needed to be created (if you're not going to reinvent the songs, why not put out a collection of the original Southern Rock hits?) But fans of country and Southern rock will likely enjoy hearing these old classics in a slightly fresher way.


 

Regis PhilbinPerforming old classics in a fresh way is not exactly how I'd characterize Regis Philbin's new solo album, When You're Smiling, on Hollywood Records. While Philbin is a passable crooner, as any who've seen his live Vegas act can likely attest, his best and most powerful days as a vocalist are long past.

So, despite the best intentions, he sounds a bit weathered and passť on this collection of orchestral-backed elevator music classics, including "Pennies From Heaven," "Cheek to Cheek," "It Had to Be You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "You Make Me Feel So Young," on which Philbin may feel young, but sounds old.

Imagine the equally weathered current stylings of Tony Bennett, with less charisma, and you've got the reed on this strictly-for-background-music release. Those over age 50 may find this a welcome dose of musical nostalgia, nevertheless.


 

Jerry Garcia BandJerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead made their careers based on their ever-inventive, always-changing concert performances. They could play a song for three minutes one night and stretch it to 12 minutes of jamming the next. Consequently, fans have amassed large collections of bootlegged concerts recorded at their shows. The Dead always encouraged the practice of taping shows so fans could enjoy them later. Lately, the band's record labels have jumped into the act, releasing a number of live recordings from older Dead shows. Now, Rhino Records has issued a 24-year-old recording of Garcia's spin-off act, The Jerry Garcia Band.

After Midnight Kean College, 2/28/80 documents Garcia and his moonlighting band performing the Dead standard "Sugaree," as well as covers of Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," J.J. Cale's "After Midnight" (made popular by Eric Clapton) and others. The band also is joined by Dead lyricist Robert Hunter on two of his songs, "Tiger Rose" and "Promontory Rider."

The set offers only 16 songs on three CDs (two of the discs have only four songs each, as the band improvs for more than 10 minutes on each track). It's a well-produced recording with the band in top form and sounds essentially like the Grateful Dead playing a set of cover songs.