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The Capitol Collection - Chris LeDoux
The Capitol Collection - Chris LeDoux
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Chris LeDoux (Official)

Reviewed by Matt Bjorke

What would you do if you were a late 1970's bareback bronc riding champion who retired shortly after winning the buckle? Chris LeDoux decided to become a performer who would go on to travel around rodeo arenas in the 1980s and release several independent CDs. In 1989, Garth Brooks mentioned "a worn out tape of Chris LeDoux" in his song "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" and everything suddenly changed for LeDoux.

In 1990, Capitol Records signed Chris LeDoux to a recording contract for which Chris soon was in the studio recording his major label debut. Coming out in 1991, Western Underground was a moderate hit album that showcased LeDoux as a dynamic performer who had legions of fans coming to his sold-out concerts. No other country artist with as little radio exposure has had that kind of success at selling out his concerts. Standout tracks from Western Underground include "County Fair" "Riding For A Fall" "Cadillac Cowboy" and "Workin' Man's Dollar."

In 1992, LeDoux released what is to this day his most successful album. Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy featured the hit title track which was a duet with Garth Brooks. LeDoux's only Top 10 hit, the song is still, ten years later, played on a handful of country radio stations. Other moderately successful singles include "Cadillac Ranch" and "Hooked On An 8-Second Ride." The best of the rest of the CD included "Call Of The Wild" and "Look At You Girl."

In 1993, Under This Old Hat was released. Featuring a more polished sound than was evident on the previous two releases, it is no surprise, to me, that this record didn't meet the success of the other releases. Because LeDoux is a gritty performer, Chris was able to ride through the slickness and make the songs sound better live. If you go to his shows, you will instantly see where Garth Brooks got the ideas for his dynamic shows. Released as a dance track, during the line dance craze, "Cadillac Ranch" again became a Top 20 hit for LeDoux. Another moderate hit was the rocking reworked Joe Ely song "For Your Love." Some of the other tracks that stand out on this collection are; "Under This Old Hat," "Wild And Wolly" and "Soft Place To Fall."

The fourth album released in four years was 1994's Haywire. With this record, there is a decided more uptempo sound than the other three records. Perhaps the addition of producer Gregg Brown (Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker) has something to do with this direction. Every song has bigger production, while they have lost much of the polish of the previous album. There weren't any big hits off of this record although Chris did show his great song picking ability by recording "Big Love" two years before Tracy Byrd took the song to the top of the charts. "Tougher Than The Rest," the Garth Brooks penned "Slow Down," and "Light Of The World" highlight the most cohesive record of Chris LeDoux's career.

The spoken word song "Gravitation Pull" opens up Chris Ledoux's fifth all-new release from the 1990's, "Stampede." Once again produced by Gregg Brown, but without the newly retired Jimmy Bowen, this record is a fine country-rock collection, although I find it to be the "worst" of the set. It's not horrid by any stretch of the imagination but it simply isn't as good as the previous four albums were. "Now That's All Right With Me" is a song which became Mandy Barnett's only hit single the same year this album was released. Here Chris gives it a subdued sound. The standout tracks from this record are the title track, the previously mentioned two tracks and the sincere "Fathers and Sons."

The final all new CD released during the 1990s is the fine 1998 release One Road Man. Produced by Trey Bruce (Trace Adkins), this record was the first for which Chris didn't write at least one of the tracks. Consisting of songs LeDoux either sang in concert or simply liked well enough to record, this record features the Garth Brooks' wild "The Fever," Johnny Horton's "Old Slew Foot," Deryl Dodd's "One Ride In Vegas," Charlie Daniels' "Caballo Diablo" and two rock remakes, Jon Bon Jovi's "Bang A Drum," which features the rocker, and Tom Cochrane's massive 1991 hit "Life Is A Highway." While a lesser artist would be laughed at for their selection of tracks like these, LeDoux pulls it off with amazing esteem and makes them feel as if they were his own songs to begin with.

Since this is a box set, there are six new tracks, one per CD, all of them LeDoux originals. These songs were probably added to draw long time LeDoux fans in to buying this box set much in the same way Garth Brooks did with his Limited Series a few years back. The new tracks are in order from oldest CD to newest, "Hometown Western Saturday Night," "The Old Double Diamond," "Photo Finish," "Six Bucks A Day," "Rainbow Rider" and "The Passenger."

While he almost died because of his liver failure due to "Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)," the same ailment that killed Walter Payton, not alcohol related problems, LeDoux received a new liver from a donor and remarkably returned to the stage in 2001. At 54 years old, Chris LeDoux is far from being finished as a performer and while the whole concert industry is struggling to sell out shows, Chris continues to sell his shows at an alarming rate.

While the average fan might balk at paying around $40 for any CD collection, when you add that this collection includes nearly 70 tracks and is six CDs long, it is quite a bargain. Any fan who's always been interested in Chris LeDoux but never really wanted to buy any of his CDs before, then I'd suggest getting this fine collection. Not only do you get the music but you get the complete liner notes for every album with lyrics and some wonderful pictures. For fans, the first few sets contain a nice poster that is free for simply buying the collection.

Song List:

"Western Underground"

  1. County Fair
  2. Riding for a Fall
  3. Thank the Cowboy for the Ride
  4. Cadillac Cowboy
  5. This Cowboy's Hat
  6. Shot Full of Love
  7. The Last Drive-In
  8. Yellow Brick Road Turns Blue
  9. Settin' the Woods on Fire
  10. Workin' Man's Dollar
  11. Homegrown Western Saturday Night

"Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy"

  1. Call of the Wild
  2. You Can't See Him From the Road
  3. Little Long-Haired Outlaw
  4. Making Ends Meet
  5. Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy (with Garth Brooks)
  6. Hooked on an 8-Second Ride
  7. I'm Ready If You're Willing
  8. Look at You Girl
  9. Cadillac Ranch
  10. Western Skies
  11. The Ol' Double Diamond

"Under This Old Hat"

  1. Under This Old Hat
  2. Get Back on That Pony
  3. Every Time I Roll the Dice
  4. Strugglin' Years
  5. Cowboys Like a Little Rock and Roll (with Charlie Daniels
  6. She's Tough
  7. Soft Place to Fall
  8. >For Your Love
  9. Wild and Wooly
  10. Powder River Home
  11. Cadillac Ranch (dance version)
  12. Photo Finish

"Haywire"

  1. Honky Tonk World
  2. Dallas Days and Fort Worth Nights
  3. Tougher Than the Rest
  4. Big Love
  5. Love Needs a Fool
  6. Slow Down
  7. Sons of the Pioneers
  8. Billy the Kid
  9. Hairtrigger Colt's .44
  10. Light of the World
  11. Six Bucks a Day

"Stampede"

  1. Gravitational Pull
  2. Five Dollar Fine
  3. Now That's All Right With Me
  4. Take Me to the Rodeo
  5. Fathers and Sons
  6. I'll Get the Job Done
  7. Stampede
  8. When I Say Forever
  9. Calico Moon
  10. That's What Loving You Means to Me
  11. Rainbow Rider

"One Road Man"

  1. One Tonight
  2. Runaway Love
  3. The Borderline
  4. Old Paint
  5. The Fever
  6. Bang a Drum (With Jon Bon Jovi)
  7. Ole Slew Foot
  8. One Ride in Vegas
  9. Sometimes You've Just Gotta Ride
  10. Life Is a Highway
  11. Caballo Diablo (With Charlie Daniels)
  12. One Road Man
  13. The Passenger
Sound clips courtesy of Barnes & Noble.
Album cover, used with permission of Capitol Nashville.

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