Back on June 3rd, the British arm of the multinational music conglomerate Now That's What I Call Music issued a triple disc collection titled Now That's What I Call Rock Ballads. Not to be confused with previous, multiple NOW albums with the words "power ballads" or "classic rock" in the title, NOW Rock Ballads is 57 songs from the past six decades, stretching back to the Sixties and as you would imagine given its place of origin, there is a UK bent to the four hour playlist. As is usual with a high-profile compilation like this, there is heated debate among fans as to what exactly constitutes a "rock ballad" with many feeling that these songs don't fit the criteria. And yet as I write this, the CD is number 2 on the Box Sets and number 3 on the Compilations charts on Amazon UK. Indulge me a few of my favorites before we get to the artwork and playlist:
There is a gentle and fragile beauty in U2's "One" that I cannot escape. Nor do I want to. One (heh!) of the few songs that can bring me down as well as lift me up.
Another beautiful song with picturesque lyrics and an absolutely gorgeous melody. Takes me to the place described in the lyrics, if only in my mind.
Not a ballad in my book but still a great song that came out of nowhere in 1998. It's pop music with a radical (I can't stop) punk view in the lyrics. NOW fact: "You Get What You Give" is on NOW 43 [UK] and NOW 2 [US], released eight days apart in July 1999.
I missed this next disc when it was released in late April but I saw it recently at Wal-Mart. Now That's What I Call Southern Rock is a Wal-Mart Exclusive - they've partnered with NOW on a half dozen or so exclusive compilations over the past few years - and really, you couldn't ask for a more appropriate title for Wal-Mart unless they come out with Now That's What I Call NASCAR or Now That's What I Call Guns or Now That's What I Call Diabetes. But yeah, so NOW Southern Rock. In a recent soporific post, I began my cockeyed review of Blackfoot's "Highway Song" with the sentence:
If every Southern rock band must have their "Free Bird" then surely Blackfoot's "Highway Song" fulfills their obligation.
To expand on that though if I may, I think there are three "Free Bird"-type Southern Rock extended jam session anthems: "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Highway Song" by Blackfoot and "Green Grass And High Tides Forever" by The Outlaws and all three are on this here album. Were there any new songs added to my collection when I bought NOW Southern Rock? Nope. Did I listen to it the whole mile home? Yes, I barely got halfway into the first track "Free Bird" just before the chayayayayayaynge part and the four plus minute guitar dual. So I sat in the garage until it finished before getting out, going in the house and shutting the garage door.
The last volume of Now That's What I Call Country covered here on the Hideaway was Vol. 5 in way back in 2012 - actually Vols. 1-5 and a couple related discs were covered in that post. But here we are in Summer 2016 and country music is still a thing and Now That's What I Call Country Vol. 9 was released back on June 10th with nineteen songs you have liked at one time if you are a fan of country radio. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have mentioned the album at all (like I didn't do with Volumes 6-8, oops) but this one has two of my favorite songs on it so given my poilcy of only spending time writing about things I like, I'm gonna give this one some real estate. But first, those two songs:
As a big big fan of Little Big Town, this sparse and smoldering torch song somewhat surprisingly ruled the Hot Country Songs chart all Summer 2015 from May through August - a record-breaking total of 13 consecutive weeks - but unsurprisingly couldn't cut through all the same-sounding bro-country over on the Country Airplay chart where "Girl Crush" peaked at number 3. The song went double platinum by crossing over to the AC (29), Adult Top 40 (23) and Hot 100 (18) charts.
My love for this song is well documented here on The Hideaway. It was my own personal number one most played (scrobbled) song in 2015, according to last.fm and that doesn't even include dozens of plays in The Blueberry. During an amazing ten month climb up the charts, "Stay A Little Longer" managed to go Gold, peaking at number 4 on the Hot Country Songs chart, number 3 on the Country Airplay chart and number 46 on the Hot 100.