Toby Keith

Unleashed (DreamWorks)

Look, I'm as patriotic as the next guy (unless the next guy happens to be, say, Lee Greenwood), but I'm pretty sure I'll never need some 10-10-220 shill taking a break from telling me exactly how much a buck is worth to deliver his U-S-A! U-S-A! fight song. Which, with "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," is exactly how Toby Keith kicks off his latest disc, and, to be honest, it's much more offensive than Steve Earle's "The Ballad of John Walker" (written from the perspective of U.S. hip-hop fan-turned-Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh) could ever hope to be. Sure, Bruce Springsteen's new The Rising covers essentially the same ground--and over 15 songs--but Springsteen wisely remains on the edge of the fray, never venturing into the fist-shaking, flag-waving territory Keith treads on "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." "Oh, justice will be served and the battle will rage," Keith sings. "This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage/And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A./'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass/It's the American way." And that's just a taste. The song is so completely over-the-top it's almost obscene, only lacking background vocals by Keith's 10-10-220 foils Terry Bradshaw and Mike Piazza to push it all the way there. It doesn't help that Keith follows it up with "Who's Your Daddy?," a by-the-numbers come-on come-on, with its "you're lookin' right, lookin' good, lookin' like a woman should" lyrics. And that is followed by "Good to Go to Mexico," which rips off Kenny Chesney ripping off Jimmy Buffett. Later on, Keith even drags Willie Nelson down with him, on their duet "Beer for My Horses," as they sing, "We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces/Singing whiskey for my men, beer for my horses." Apparently, the best way to battle the Axis of Evil is to get shit-hammered on the tailgate of your truck. Wonder why Bush and Cheney haven't thought of that yet.

 
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