Toby Keith-Unleashed Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/29/2002
Can controversy generate album sales? In almost every case, the answer is yes. Is the inevitable success of Toby Keith's Unleashed warranted? Well...partly.
The controversy in question is over the first single off the album called "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American.)" The song is a tough, patriotic country rocker than makes a suggestion of where we would put a boot if anyone messes with America. Toby Keith was scheduled to perform this song on ABC's Fourth of July special, but host Peter Jennings objected to the lyrics, so he was booted (pun not intended.) When word of this spread to the media, everyone was confused. Why stop the performance of a very patriotic song just because it contained a word that wasn't as bad as many other words heard on several other shows on ABC? Was the concern that the song would corrupt young minds? What would have been the problem if they had just placed his performance near the end of the show? It boggled the mind at the time.
The sales for Unleashed will be huge because everyone who wants to be patriotic will want a copy, but is the rest of the album worth it? The first half of it is. The thing that makes Toby Keith distinctive amongst his fellow cowboys is that he either writes, co-writes, or picks songs with lyrics that make you take notice of the song. In "You Ain't Much Fun" (from his 1995 album Boomtown) the chorus includes the words "you ain't much fun since I quit drinking." In "I Wanna Talk about Me" (from last year's Pull My Chain), basically he talks about how he wants to talk about himself. He continues the odd wordplay on this album. From the patriotic, "don't tread on me" like lyrics of the first single to the weird beverage choice for his horse in the song "Beer for My Horses" (a duet with Willie Nelson), the album is a great, fun, enjoyable listen.
Somewhere around the seventh track, "Huckleberry," the album starts getting bland. I saw a track on the album was called "Rock You Baby" and I was expecting a rockin' honky-tonk fun song, but instead it was a slow, plodding snorer.
The last track on the album is an introduction to "Courtesy," but I don't understand why it is the last track instead of the first one. The only thing I can guess is that he wanted people to get the urge to want to play the first track again. It worked on me.
Overall, I think you will like the album if you are a Toby Keith fan or a country fan in general. It's not as good as some of his past stuff (I highly recommend picking up his Greatest Hits Volume One), but it isn't too bad. "Courtesy" is such a strong song that it alone is worth picking up the album, as well as some of the other songs on the first half of the album. It is your duty as a proud American! (Okay, I'm being tongue-in-cheek, but it is a pretty cool song...)
One more thing I'd like
to address before I end this review. I'd like everyone to know that, yes, I am
apparently the only geek on the planet who likes country music! You have to
understand, I am a geek who grew up in Colorado, one of the big country
capitols. I will continue to review country albums when I get the chance, and if
you don't like it, tell me so! You can always give your opinion of anything I
review on the Entertain Your Brain Message Board located on the home page.
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Throw away your friend's album or use it as a coaster!