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4.4 out of 5 stars
Country Again
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
Anyone who has read my previous reviews can probably guess that Ronnie Milsap has been my all-time musical hero since the age of ten. I've faithfully purchased every recording he has ever released in the last two decades no matter how popular or unpopular Ronnie might be during any given year. In this musically dreadful year of 2011, I attempt once again to remind the world of the simple truth that today's Nashville executives and radio programmers don't want you to know......Ronnie Lee Milsap is likely the most versatile and criminally underappreciated singer to hit the Billboard charts in the last 45 years.

While such a bold, head-turning statement is likely to be the subject of ridicule in any gathering of brainwashed American Idol/Simon Cowell supporters, the truth of this statement becomes all too clear when taking the time to explore Milsap's recorded output over the last five decades. I know of at least one person out there who agrees with me all the way. His name is Ronnie Milsap. Here's what he has to say about the matter....

"I'm a singer, not a vocal stylist. My breathing is correct; my enunciation is precise. Because of that, I can sing anybody's music. Yet there are stylists whose technical skills are so underdeveloped they can sing only their own songs their own way. They might be remembered for their hits longer than I am. I'll probably be working longer than they are. I can sing whatever the times and the trends demand."

Mr. Milsap's brash assessment of his own vocal abilities is no arrogant statement, it is right on the money! While most singers from any genre of music can only sing one style of music one way, Milsap has the range and power to sing any song they can sing, and a hundred other songs they can't! With a soaring vocal range comparable to Roy Orbison and stunning versatility that only Linda Ronstadt can match, Ronnie Milsap stands as one of the greatest singing talents America has ever produced.

Here we are in the middle of the year 2011 where the title of Ronnie's new album tries to convince us all that he is "COUNTRY AGAIN". Ladies and Gentlemen, dare I say it....Ronnie Milsap has never been a "country singer" as that term applies to any other country singer. This man is any type of singer he wants to be anytime he puts his lips to a microphone.

At any given moment, whenever he chooses to be, Ronnie Milsap is country again, pop again, rock n' roll again, R&B again, doo wop again, blues again, funk again, disco again, Jazz/Pop standards again, Bach and Mozart again, and most recently, gospel again. If you took a blender and mixed together Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Floyd Cramer, Jim Reeves, Charlie Rich, The Five Satins, Bobby Bland, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Billy Joel, Elton John, Glen Campbell, Micheal Buble, Barry Manilow, and Beethoven, the resulting mixture would be Ronnie Milsap. For a great example of this, check out Ronnie's priceless "piano man medley" from his live concert DVD from 2002. Watch how he channels the spirit and style of all the great piano legends that came before him and delivers their songs with as much feeling and conviction as they do. This particular performance is one of the greatest ever captured on video.

Sadly, the fickle nature of the music buying public has affected many talented artists over the years. Here in the 21st century it is no longer hip or fashionable to proudly proclaim that a 68 year old Ronnie Milsap is still a better singer than any Nashville puppet that country radio has shoved down our throats for the last 15 years. It's a difficult truth for many mainstream music fans to swallow that an artist who hasn't had a hit single since 1992 would easily take first prize in any singing contest with George Strait, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, or Garth Brooks. Don't take my word for it. Just ask Milsap's former duet partner, the legendary Kenny Rogers....

"There is no greater thrill and at the same time no greater FEAR than singing with Ronnie Milsap. He is, quite simply, as good as he has to be, to be better than the person he is singing with."

Now let us take a brief look at the resume of this man we stubbornly call a "country singer". Ronnie Milsap spent his entire childhood and teen years studying the classical music of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. In high school, Ronnie's first band was a local Atlanta rock n' roll band called the Apparitions. By 1963, Milsap was a local R&B musician who would go on to play his first professional gigs as a keyboardist in J.J. Cale's band and land a top 5 single on the R&B charts, Ashford and Simpson's "Never had it so Good". In 1970, Milsap played keyboards on several recordings by Elvis Presley and was a regular performer at a popular Memphis nightclub, TJ's, where he captivated local audiences every night with a repertoire spanning rock, pop, and R&B. In 1971, Milsap recorded his self-titled debut album for Warner Brothers, a shamefully obscure R&B/Soul masterpiece that ranks among his finest recordings but sadly went unnoticed by everyone. Thankfully, the album was finally reissued on CD a few years ago for fans to rediscover.

Throughout his career, Milsap has shared the stage with everyone from Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, and Los Lonely Boys. Unlike today's modern country superstars, Milsap has the vocal chops to hold his own with any of these non-country performers. Truth be told, there's not an R&B, pop, rock, or country superstar on the charts in 2011 who can master as many styles of music as Ronnie Milsap.

It is a sad fact that today's music executives and radio programmers have ruthlessly denied countless artists of great talent the attention and recognition they deserve for fear of what would happen if a talent of Milsap's calibre were allowed on the radio today. It would put today's cookie-cutter country clones right out of business! If Michael Jordan was never allowed on a basketball court, would sports fans see him as the greatest player in the history of the game? Of course not. As long as Ronnie Milsap is no longer allowed on your local radio station, the masses brainwashed by modern country radio will remain completely ignorant about the superior talent of this criminally underrated performer.

And so it goes for the great Mr. Milsap, a man who was unjustly kicked off radio playlists in 1993 despite having more talent than nearly anyone who has occupied those playlists in the last two decades. Despite having six grammy awards and more number one hits than Elvis, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, or Micheal Jackson, Mr. Milsap has been denied his loooooong overdue induction into the country music hall of fame despite having conquered country music by the late 70's when hall of famers George Strait, Vince Gill, and Garth Brooks were barely out of high school!

Is there any integrity or justice left in Nashville anymore??

Yes, Ronnie can sing a country song as well as anybody and better than most, but the world has already known that for more than 30 years. What most people fail to know year after year is that literally no song from any genre is beyond this man's ability. He has the rare talent to adapt his voice to nearly any genre of American music and NAIL IT with as much power and conviction as any superstar you can name. For a perfect example of this, compare Milsap's shamefully obscure 1986 recording of Oh Holy Night with the widely popular Josh Groban version that eats up the radio airwaves every December. No disrespect intended to Mr. Groban, but the vocal range displayed in his version is nowhere close to a prime Ronnie Milsap. I ask all Josh Groban fans to compare the two recordings side by side to put your doubts to rest about Milsap's superior vocal range.

Never underestimate the power of "MILSAP MAGIC" my friends. If Ronnie Milsap isn't the greatest male vocalist of the past 45 years, there hasn't been a male vocalist on the charts in the last 20 years who can touch him!

Ronnie's new studio effort, Country Again, is a solid collection of pure country music that takes Milsap back to the traditional country sound of his early 70's hits. Long-time fans will enjoy it even though it will do little to reclaim his position as a mainstream country hitmaker like his 2006 CD "My Life" tried to do. While that album was as good or better than anything on the charts that year, it never stood a chance at country radio who were too busy playing bubblegum songs by cookie-cutter kids calling themselves country artists.

After all these years, Ronnie is singing better than any 68 year old man has a right to as the soaring vocals that end "Cry Cry Darling" and "Even Fools get lucky" prove. "If you don't want me to" is the album's first single. This is an old, obscure Milsap song from 1980 that for some odd reason was resurrected for this new album. The song is a decent pop-country tune, but it sounds nothing like contemporary country and stands no chance at country radio. Regardless of that, this is still the best country CD you'll find in the year 2011. Even if this was the best country CD of the last 20 years, we must face the cold hard truth folks: there's not a country station in America that is going to play it.

And you know what, that's really fine by me. As a serious Milsap fan who cares about substance, soul, and real talent, I personally have no desire to see my man Ronnie in a cookie-cutter Nashville scene where talent and originality takes a backseat to youth, sex appeal, bubblegum, and having to clone every other singer on the charts. This man is so far above today's current country hitmakers that it's not even funny. Putting Ronnie Milsap on the radio next to Taylor Swift is like putting Pavarotti on the same stage with Britney Spears. Let it also be known that on her way up the ladder to the top of the pop/country world where she currently resides {despite an ever-growing reputation for off-key live performances}, good ole' Taylor paid her dues in 2006 touring as the opening act for.....guess who.....Mr. Milsap.

If I was in Ronnie's shoes, I would be exploring any musical avenue available outside the dreadful country music scene that has been on a steady downhill fall for over fifteen years. With 40 number one hits to his credit, Ronnie has already made his mark on country music and has nothing left to prove in that genre. At 68 our man is not getting any younger and before he decides to call it a career, I'm hoping the chance is still there for Milsap to join forces with an open-minded producer who is more interested in spotlighting the full scope of his musical talents. A guy like Rick Rubin or Julian Raymond would have the authority and ability to thrust Milsap's career into a whole new realm with a stunning {and sorely needed} album to showcase Ronnie's remarkable mastery of rock n' roll, pop, R&B, blues, funk, jazz, and classical music that the general public is clueless about. THAT is the Ronnie Milsap album I've been waiting 15 years for, but sadly I don't think it's ever gonna happen. If this is the last album we see from Ronnie in a long time, I wish him nothing but the best in the future.

Thank you Ronnie Lee for carrying on and giving us all a ray of hope in this bleak, dark tunnel of mainstream American music in 2011. May you still be going strong twenty years from now to show music executives and record labels everywhere that REAL MUSIC has nothing to do with youth, sex appeal, gimmicks, or copying the sound and style of every cookie-cutter hitmaker on the charts. Instead, it has everything to do with the talent and experience that YOU represent. Please do us all a great favor and go on tour with Los Lonely Boys to show everyone how much TALENT our radio stations continue to reject year after year.

To all the Nashville executives who continue to deny Ronnie his long overdue induction into the hall of fame, I proudly dedicate this review to you with my middle finger extended...

LONG LIVE THE IMMORTAL LEGEND OF RONNIE LEE MILSAP!!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This CD by Country Legend Milsap could have easily been released in the 1970s. If you played it for me and said it was a reissue, I probably couldn't have told the difference, except his voice is a bit rougher due to age. Except for a few songs like the title track, there are no hints that this is an album recorded in 2011. And, that's the point. If you you are a fan of country music when "country was country", you'll probably like this album. Of course, if you are a fan of Milsap, you'll want this too. Just be aware that it is "Old school" country and not in the style of his "Lost in the Fifties" album (Still one of my favorites.

Liking an album or a song is subjective and I could do without all the "talking" that Milsap does in that title song. And that drags my rating down a notch. But the rest of the CD enjoyable to hear. It's good to know that the 68-year old singer is still making fine music.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2011
Every time I listen to new Ronnie Milsap music...be it country, standards, gospel, R&B, or pop... I never cease to be amazed at the man's God-given vocals. He may be a man in his 60's, but his voice sounds better than ever.
Ronnie Milsap can sing whatever style of music he feels like, and on "Country Again," it's mostly classic-style country ballads. There are also a couple of up-tempo songs such as "Fireworks." The most unique song on this collection is the title song, "Country Again," in which Milsap tells a time-traveling story about what music will be like in the future. The CD closes with a repeat of a song Ronnie Milsap first did back in 1980, which some people know as "If You Don't Want Me To" and other folks call "The Freeze." Even after 31 years, the song still makes you want to get up and dance!
If I may editorialize a bit here, Ronnie Milsap might have more than 40 number one hits if CMT and Radio would treat him with the respect he deserves. It is also inexplicable why Milsap keeps getting overlooked for the Hall of Fame, in favor of artists who are much younger, or much less accomplished, than he is. I am sure he will get into the H.O.F. eventually, but I want him to be around to enjoy it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2011
I have listened to this CD several times and find that in it you hear a great combination of several artist styles all in one CD such as a little Ray Charles,George Jones and Elvis in it all in the voice of Ronnie Milsap. I love it and know if you are a fan of country music you will too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2011
I just received Ronnie Milsap's most recent album and immediately devoured each and every nuance in pure ecstacy!!!! I have been a fan of Milsap since he first came on the scene and have been moved, amazed and transported by his voice and piano and the way he interprets every song he does. This latest project includes some old songs and some new ones, but all are classic Milsap. I imagine that his blindness must have something to do with the way he colors the notes he sings and the riffs and inflections he uses to interpret the words and music, creating the emotional masterpieces that have often moved me to tears.
The immensely talented cast of players on this album add amazing harmonies and instrumental support to a well-chosen collection of songs. This album is sure to please country fans who have missed the kind of music that became classics in decades past. Thank you, Ronnie Milsap, for your magnificent gift to all your adoring fans!!!!!!!!!!!! You knocked it out of the park, Son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2011
As an old fan of Ronnie Milsap, I did not need to first listen to the tracks on this album before placing an order. I knew I would not be disappointed.

Ronnie belongs to that class of honest traditional country artists, including George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, and others.

In the true Ronnie Milsap tradition, in this particular CD, Ronnie pours out the country song, with no holding of his voice, in complete harmony with the rich accompanying country instrumentation. In these 12 tracks you feel being soulfully carried right to the final high-note point of delivery. I was all alone when I first listened to "Cry Cry Darling". I felt being carried, and when Ronnie struck the concluding high note, I couldn't help shouting: Yebo! (Zulu for Yes!)

"Trapped in an Old Country Song" is a welcome inclusion on this CD. I do have it on Charley Pride's CD called "Comfort of Her Wings". When I heard Ronnie Milsap's rendition, I said to myself, Wow! Both old Charley and Ronnie have done justice to Jack Clement's composition!

All true traditional Country Music fans must have this CD on their collections!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2011
Completely floored! This new cd Country Again by Ronnie Milsap is PERFECT. I must have played it 10 times and each time I hear it I find something else cool and neat and thats why I love this cd. The Music was memories of songs that Ronnie sang in the 70's and early 80's. If you loved Its Almost Like a Song, Smokey Mountain Rain, Day Dreams about Night Things, you will love this CD.

I love his end notes on "Cry Cry Darling" and "Fools Get Lucky Sometimes" brought me chills and smile across my face. I had to open up the cd few times to see when these songs were released. I swear I thought they were released in the 70's.....not so...2011!!!

Ronnie, I admire your flexibility in music, Jazz, Blues, Pop, Rock and now REAL Country....thanks for bringing back country in your genre. You need to do more. I will buy more.

If you like country music the way it use to be...this cd would be perfect.

tristan
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2011
What an excellent CD it is classic Ronnie! All the songs are great. Glad to see he is singing sad songs again. This is one you won't want to miss!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2011
Glad to see Ronnie back into "Old Country" although some of the tracks on this album are the mainstream country which I wouldn't walk across the street to hear.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2011
Love this cd and it got here before the promised date! I can always trust amazon.com to come through on their promises.
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