Growing up in a certain generation Kenny Rogers had a bit of pastiche about him. In the later ‘80s and ‘90s his image became less associated with the country cache of his classic singles and more with the We Are The World Broadcasts, Branson, MO, and ultimately, well… chicken. The roads that lead back to his catalog often came in the form of iconic placements, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) soundtracking The Big Lebowski, “The Gambler” in The Muppet Show. Even those might not have spurned a serious deep dive into one of country’s most notorious crossovers, but years on the catalog stands for itself. Perpetual Doom is exploring those moments and shedding new light on Kenny with the compilation, Happy Birthday, Kenny. The record sees artists from Califone and Diane Cluck, to Jeffrey Silverstein, Little Wings, Lee Baggett, and Doug Tuttle taking on Rogers’ works and casting them into new shades.
One of the sets standouts is an offering from Pearl Charles & Michael Rault. The pair take on one of Rogers’ most devastating cuts, the kind that proved he could pair real world ravaging with dance floor country in a way that provided stark contrast. Over a rambling scratch of guitar the song lays out the tale of a wounded soldier begging his wife not to step out on him in the face of their crumbling relationship and his own limitations. Pearl captures the song’s airy swing and deep hurt, imbuing it with the same feelings of ease and ache she has in her own writing. She weighs in on the cover below.
“Having just spent a week in a studio where Kenny Rogers himself recorded, I was re-acquainted with why I love the man so much in the first place. From Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) to Islands in the Stream, Kenny had a voice of gold that transcended eras and genres and can perfectly soundtrack any moment. Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town became my favorite Kenny Rogers song the moment I heard it and is one of my go-to DJ staples, so naturally I jumped at the chance to cover this classic country gem.” The new collection is out this Friday from Perpetual Doom.
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