by Sandra L. Toney
Joe Diffie's latest release, Third Rock from the Sun, is the much-awaited follow-up to his smash album, Honky Tonk Attitude (Sony, 1993). Honky Tonk Attitude contained quite a few hits for Diffie, such as the title song, "Prop Me Up Against the Jukebox," and "John Deere Green." So, Diffie had to come up with a spectacular collection of songs to top the success of Honky Tonk Attitude.
Since its release, two singles have hit the charts and done well. The title song, "Third Rock from the Sun," is an upbeat tune you can't help but tap your foot to. The lyrics tell a story about the "cause and effect" theory of how one event leads to another and so on. The song starts out with a sleazy police chief at a bar who calls his wife telling her he has to work late. From this point, the wife calls her sister to come over, her sister's boyfriend (left alone) decides to get a beer, teenagers steal his car and swerve towards a semi. At this point, "Truck hits the Big Boy in Shoney's parking lot/Who flies through the air, takes out the bank clock/Clock strikes a light pole, transformer sparks/Lines go down, the town goes dark." All of this because the chief didn't want to go home.
"Pickup Man," the album's second release, is currently climbing the country charts. The silly lyrics probably won't win a Grammy for the writers (Howard Perdew and Kerry Kurt Phillips), but the song is lighthearted and amusing. The song tells of a guy's love affair with pickup trucks. From his first truck as a boy pushing it on his knees to his current pickup, Diffie sings, "I met all my wives in traffic jams/There's just somethin' women like about a pickup man."
Although Diffie is known for his fast, rockin' country style, he can certainly hold his own in the ballad department. The best song on the album is a tear-jerker written by Casey Kelly and Deborah Beasley. "The Road Not Taken" has Diffie hearing a song on his car radio and suddenly being taken back to another time and place. He begins living in a fantasy world and wondering how his life would have turned out if he had traveled down a different road, "the road not taken." This song hits a nerve with all of us who, at one time or another, have wondered the very same thing. Diffie emotionally croons the chorus, "Somewhere down that road not taken/Will forever live those dreams that were forsaken/Just every now and then/I miss a place I've never been/Somewhere down that road not taken." This song will definitely go to the top of the country charts (and hopefully win Diffie some much-deserved awards as well).
Overall, the album just doesn't live up to the standards Diffie set for himself on Honky Tonk Attitude. Such ridiculous attempts at songs such as the final two, "Good Brown Gravy" (which country star, Billy Dean, co-wrote and also lends Diffie a hand on the vocals), and "The Cows Came Home" (co- written by Diffie himself) almost seem like "fillers" simply because the album needed two more songs and Diffie was desperate. In any case, they made it on the album and Diffie will ultimately have to live with it. I, however, have decided not to: I turn off my CD player as soon as the first notes of the foolish "Good Brown Gravy" come through my speakers. I don't, however, regret buying this album because the beautiful ballad, "The Road Not Taken," is ALONE worth the price of the CD.
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