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CD Reviews
John Berry - Mark Holt & Kimberlee Holt Tully - Gary P. Nunn


10. Excellent
8. Very Good
6. Good
4. Average
2. Below Average

John Berry
I Give My Heart ©2004
Star Rating: * * * * * * * * - -
If, Time In A Bottle, Will You Marry Me, Your Love Amazes Me, Faithfully, I Just Wanna Stop, I Give My Heart, Since The Day I Met You, Love Look What You've Done To Me, Let's Stay Together, Lady.
Born in Aiken, South Carolina, and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area, John grew up in an eclectic musical household. His father listened to concert pianist Van Clyburn, his mother had a strong taste for gospel, and his brother became an opera singer. John gravitated to both soul and country music and began recording his own albums at home in 1979. Two years later, he started performing solo acoustic shows in northeast Georgia, then expanded around the southeast, building a strong name and following. As his reputation grew, so did the demand for his self-styled recordings.

In 1994 John had his first #1 single with “Your Love Amazes Me,” followed closely by “She’s Taken a Shine” and “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye”. Other Top 10 releases included “You and Only You” "I Think About It All The Time", "What's In It For Me", "If I Had Any Pride Left At All", and “Change My Mind.” "Standing On The Edge", as well as his edgy top 10 hit “Kiss Me in the Car,” showed off John’s songwriting ability. Since then, John has been recording on his own independent label, Clear Sky Records.

This latest cd from John, has 11 tracks and is ballads from start to finish, which might raise a frown here and there, but that is what he does best, so why not? "I Give My Heart" is certainly not an album for dancing to.........unless you want to 'Smooch' that is. No, this is an album that is best listened to cuddled up with your loved one on the sofa.

John has a wonderfully soulful and emotive voice that would be difficult to tie down to any one style of music, so I didn't go into reviewing this album expecting a strictly, COUNTRY music album. In fact, one listen to the album told me that there was hardly any country music on offer here at all. An album for country music purists this is not! But the more eclectic listener is in for a treat!

For the 11 tracks on here, John looks to singer/songwriters as varied as Al Green (Lets Stay Together), David Gates (If), Jim Croce (Time In A Bottle) and Lionel Ritchie (Lady) as well as including a self penned effort, the beautiful "Since The Day That I Met You" and a co-write with John Hall and David Lee Murphy, "Will You Marry Me", which at the time of writing this review, has just been released to radio and is already being used in wedding proposals!

Personal favourites on here include the much recorded David Gates tune that was a massive hit for his own band, Bread, and also lollipop licking TV cop, Kojak, alias Telly Savalas. I'm talking of course about the song that is simply titled, "If". John does a wonderful reading of the song here, in fact, I would go so far as to say that this is probably, my favourite version! I also like the Al Green song, "Lets Stay Together". Released by Al in 1972, the song brings back many memories for me in the second year of my marriage. There's also a re-release here of John's first #1, "Your Love Amazes Me", which is still my favourite of all that John has done. The track was previously released on his self titled album, which I was amazed to find(no pun intended) is over 10 years ago now.(Doesn't time pass quickly when you are getting old...er!)

With multiple gold and platinum albums and nominations from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, and the Grammy's, John has clearly forged an appreciation from the music industry and fans alike. Two such fan's include former President George H. Bush and wife Barbara, who invited John to sing for Mr. Bush's birthday party.

Highly recommended listening!!

"I Give My Heart", on Clear Sky Records, is available on his website, or by calling his fan club at 615-297-7002.

Website; www.johnberry.net .....E:Mail: johnberryfans@adelphia.net

Mark Holt & Kimberlee Holt Tully
Acoustically Native ©2003
Star Rating: * * * * * * * * * *
Tracks; El Paso City, Midnight Rider, One Last Dance, Roll'n With The Flow, Cattle Call, Me & My Uncle, You're In My Arms To Stay, All Over Now, Why Me Lord, Frank Sinatra Medley; One More For The Road,/The Way You Look Tonight, Cowboy Up/Riding For America.

Hailing from Idaho, siblings Mark Holt and Kimberlee Holt Tully were raised on a wide variety of music, ranging from John Denver to Merle Haggard and Charlie Rich to Sammy Davis Jr., while along the way, they also discovered bluegrass, quoting influences as Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice.

With many years of performance experience under their belts, Mark and Kimberlee have now released their debut album, "Acoustically Native," produced by Bil VornDick,....who has also worked with Alison Krauss.....and coinciding with the 20th anniversary of Marty Robbins' death on October 18, 2002.

This album is like a breath of fresh air among today's pop influenced music that is being passed off as Country. There was a time when male vocalists could instantly be told apart as soon as you heard them open their mouth, but sadly that seems to be fading with most of today's artists sounding the same, or at least that is, until I heard Mark. Mark has a unique voice, that is instantly recognisable as he sings these songs with real passion. I just love the laughs on "Me & My Uncle", which show to me that the man is really enjoying the music that he sings and plays. Wonderful!!

The album consists mainly of covers while there are four originals, 3 penned by Mark and one by Mark and Kimberlee together. I'll start first with the covers and there's an absolutely splendid version of "El Paso City" to open the album, one that the legendary Marty Robbins himself would have been proud of. I have never heard this song done better since the great man himself!! There are also great version's of Gregg Allman's "Midnight Rider", the Jerry Hayes penned "Rollin' With The Flow"......... a comeback hit for Charlie Rich in 1977......... the much recorded "Cattle Call" and the gospel classic, "Why Me Lord", penned by Kris Kristofferson. Uniquely,.....I think....the album also includes a medley of two Frank Sinatra tracks; "One More For The Road" and "The Way You Look Tonight".

Mark also proves his worth as a songwriter with, "One Last Dance", "You're In My Arms To Stay" and "All Over Now" all standing up well alongside the heavyweight covers! The album comes to a close with the co-written "Cowboy Up/Riding For America", a *Bonus* track that was, "Quote", written at the request of the head wrangler for the International horseback trail ride, "Riding For America", which began in Alberta, Canada, south to Wyoming, east to the Statue Of Liberty..........Mark & Kimberlee spent 4 days in the Black Hills of South Dakota with the ride..........and decided to include it on the album as a 'Western' reminder of the attacks on 9/11.

From beginning to end the musicianship is absolutely astounding, with special guests; Stuart Duncan brilliant on fiddle & mandolin, Mark Fain on bass, Randy Kohrs with some truly mesmorising dobro, Scott Vestal on 5-string banjo, Pete Huttlinger playing acoustic guitars, Tim Tapan on piano and Kathy Chiavola providing her always faultless, harmony vocals

Recent recognition for the duo includes "Best Western Nominations" for 2003 by the "Academy of Western Artist's", Best Western Duo/Group, "Rising Stars", and Mark Holt "Best Western Male Performer".

If you are a serious country music fan............particularly if you are a fan of Western, Acoustic and Bluegrass,...........then this is one album you must definitely have in your collection. I haven't heard anything better up to now this year and it will take something special to top it before the the year ends!! Wonderful!!!!!

STAR RATING: * * * * * * * * * *

What I Like About Texas, Austin Pickers, Nobody But Me, The Old Rocking Chair, Think I'll Go To Mexico, Roadtrip, Guadalupe Days, Friends For Life, The Chilli Song, Public Domain, Terlingua Sky, Corona Con Lima, Why Don't You Meet Me Down In Corpus, My Kind Of Day On Padre, Macho Man From Taco Land, London Homesick Blues/Home With The Armadillo, (I've Got) A Long Long Way To Go, Take The A-O Train.

Gary P. Nunn began his musical career as a 7th grader in a garage band in Brownfield, Texas, where he was an honor student and all-around athlete. Upon graduation from night school, he attended Texas Tech University and South Plains College while pursuing music on weekends playing with "The Fabulous Sparkles," a take-no-prisoners rock band that was the rage of West Texas during the sixties.
In 1968 he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin immersing himself in the lively local music scene while studying pharmacy at UT. In 1972, Michael Martin Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Willie Nelson moved to Austin and a new Era in music was born. The movement was dubbed "Texas progressive," "outlaw music" among other monikers and Gary P. Nunn was right in the middle of it. At one time he was playing bass for Murphey, Walker and Nelson! For Murphy and Walker, he lead The Lost Gonzo Band who backed them up on stage and in the studio, and helped propel them to national notoriety. It was during this time that Nunn honed his songwriting skills composing tunes that were recorded by Nelson, Walker and Murphey, as well as Rosanne Cash, David Allen Coe and others, earning him several gold and platinum records for writing, publishing and performing.

1980 found Gary P. Nunn on his own and in the position of having to start over, never having performed under his own name. Since that time, he has grown into one of the best known and most popular artists on the Texas music scene - a testament to his talent and determination.

Since venturing on his own, Gary P. Nunn has assumed the responsibility for his own career. Without the aid of an agent and manager, has built a substantial music business organization which handles his booking and houses his music publishing companies.. He has entered into a relationship with Campfire Records, an independent label out of San Antonio, which has produced three CD's, "Totally Guacamole" in 1993, "Roadtrip" in 1994, and "Under My Hat" released in 1996, as well as licensing four previously released CD's Gary P. had produced on various independent labels. "What I Like About Texas" is essentially a Greatest Hits collection of his work, put out by Campfire Records who have secured national distribution of the entire Gary P. Nunn catalogue and are currently fielding offers from major labels interested in distributing the catalogue in Europe. The number of products being moved is starting to attract the attention of major labels in the U.S.!

In my opinion, Gary P. Nunn is one of the finest exponents of Texas Honky Tonk-music and I only wish a promoter would get him over in this country where, I'm sure, he would fill the clubs throughout the land. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of this album. You won't be disappointed!!!