Brooks, Cagle on the Country Charts

by terry mathews - news-telegram arts editor

The Ultimate Hits

Garth Brooks:

Pearl Records. 2 CDs - 1 DVD $23.98.

It's good to be Garth Brooks. The country superstar's most recent release, "The Ultimate Hits," has sold over six million copies and has been on the Billboard country charts for the past 18 weeks.

Brooks' signature tunes include hits like "Friends in Low Places," "Shameless," "The Dance" and "Unanswered Prayers" are just like you remember - pure country without an ounce of pretension.

Even though Brooks made a powerful video for "The Thunder Rolls," the song has just as much impact without visual images. It's an emotional look at martial infidelity and it will raise the hair on the back of your neck.

It's nice that the decision-makers added some lesser-known ballads like "Beaches of Cheyenne" and "Learning to Live Again" to the collection. The numbers are solid, sweet and they will break your heart.

Of particular note is "To Make You Feel My Love," from the "Hope Floats" movie soundtrack. Most of the track is just Brooks and a piano, leaving him no where to hide. If you have any doubts that the boy from Oklahoma can sing, listen to this cut. He delivers.

Brooks has nothing left to prove. He's laid it all down on these CDs.

My Life's Been a Country Song

Chris Cagle

Capitol Nashville. $18.98.

Chris Cagle was serious about getting the right songs for his fourth CD, released last month.

"I listened to over 4,000 songs," Cagle said in a press release for "My Life's Been a Country Song." "And, I listened to them from beginning to end, to give each and every one a chance."

Cagle must have done something right because the CD just knocked Taylor Swift off the top spot on Billboard's country charts.

The first cut, "What Kinda Gone," has hit the charts, too, currently tracking at number seven.

"The first single infected me from the opening note," Cagle said. "I think it represents the light side of a man who is denial about a love gone wrong."

The title cut is as traditional as it gets.

"It's a song that makes me reflect on how I grew up," Cagle said. "I hope this one makes it to the radio.

Cagle rocks out so hard on "It's Good To Be Back" that you'd think he was Big & Rich.

"This might be the best show opener any artist ever had," Cagle said. "And a song like this ... could not have come to my career at a better time."

Cagle, who was born in Louisiana, but raised in Baytown, Texas, says his personal favorite is "Never Ever Gone."

"It's the only love song with a negative connotation that I've ever heard that makes me feel good," the Nashville singer said.

Easy on the eyes and ears, with a knack for making the right choices, Cagle's going to be around for a while.

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