By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Montgomery Gentry! Eddie "Peanut M &" M and Troy the G (uitarist, mainly) often seem like they're dreaming on bar stools, yet somehow took CMA Award for Duo of the Year 2000 away from eight-time winners Brooks & Dunn (not a lot of competition, I'd say: duos?). Now, in sporty new MG hit "She Couldn't Change Me," Eddie triumphs over post-Dixie Chicks itch/initiative by just chillin', "settin' on the porch in mah overalls," 'til his prodi-gal finally brings it on home to him (or them). Kind of The Odysseyin reverse, obverse, converseanyway, whatcha say, TROY?
Still, Brooks & Dunn's current big 'un leads CMT's Top 20 Videos: haunts the crossroads between Das Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" (not a power ballad, but romantic breathy-metal) and Neil's "Like a Hurricane" (but not Dyl's "Hurricane"this is mellower); B &/or D declare "Ain't NOTHIN' 'Bout You Baby" (he or they don't like). Likewise, Aaron Tippin's "Kiss This" (" . . . and Ah don't mean on mah rosy-red lips . . . ") stomps like Bob Seger and Huey Lewis meeting Kenny "Footloose" Loggins, but then again, he's quoting a woman: It's a conscious party all over CMT! Charlie (actually married to a Destiny'ser, DixieChick) Robison's "I Want You Bad": candid courtesy, with a good hard solo toward the end. Live (!) clip of Billy Ray Cyrus, still trying to outlive that "Achey-Breaky Heart"too breathless to sing, finally, but he and his band break into the most Bachman-Turner-Overdriven coda ever. He's your gladiator. With each "Me Neither," Brad Paisley has to top himself, while trying to top stubborn you, making something positive of your every rejection. (Wanna dance? Him neither! What a relief!) But the guitars get to chatter like young folks should, before Brad can paint himself out of the picture. And Gary Allan's "lo, oh, vin', you! has made a man of me" matches the Monkees' (and Sex Pistols', on live bootlegs) "I, I, I, I'm! not your steppin' stone"flippin' the script? But not necessarily contradictory at all, No Ma'am.
And oh, Lee Ann Womack's "Ashes by Now": She's real little, cute, (a wised-up) Paula Jones after the nose jobin other words, cute in a Real People way, like Chickspark Natalie Maines, but Lee Ann's flinging sexy accusations at a faithless hill of beans, as if to say, "Look what you threw away, Fool." Arms raised, she could be dancing by now; hip twitch, just enough to oops bump you off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Dig if you will, Miz Mainesno boom boom Big Room moves here. Girlfriend's smooth as a measuring spoon. Madonna and Prince were this country-versatile when need be, after all: Arena tightens to lair.