The other day I was browsing the import section at Tower Records and stumbled across something that had a decidedly homegrown flavor: the new LeAnn Rimes album, Whatever We Wanna. It was a little odd to see the former sweetheart of the rodeo from Garland amidst the Q- and Mojo-approved Brit-poppers who make up most of the section, but not wholly unusual to see a U.S. artist slumming it among the U.K. bunch; after all, Macy Gray's 2003 release The Trouble With Being Myself came out overseas before it was released here. Happens all the time--though usually to headliners on their way to becoming footnotes. Deep Blue Something's Byzantium, the 1998 follow to the hit-spawning Home, was a U.K.-only release till it got picked up by a tiny Phoenix-based indie. I hate that I know these things off the top of my pointy head.
Well, turns out Rimes' latest will never be coming out in the United States, at least officially. (It is for sale at Tower and elsewhere for about 22 to 25 bucks, which is no bargain.) Liz Cavanaugh of Curb Records says she doesn't even have any copies of the disc in her office; far as the Nashville-based label's concerned, Whatever We Wanna doesn't even exist in Rimes' home country. "I couldn't send one to [press] even if they wanted it," the publicist says. Not that country-music critics are likely to beg for one: The CD's slathered in a thick sheen of Euroyuck; seems The Next Patsy Cline's figured out she's happier being The Second Coming of Cher. (Still, there's nothing here approaching the awesome awfulness of her "Purple Rain" cover from 1998's Sittin' on Top of the World.) Says Cavanaugh: "In Europe, you can do other kinds of music, and over there she isn't a country artist. She's a pop artist. For her to do a country album in England, it wouldn't make a dent. For her do a pop album, that's a big deal." Or at least it was: According to the BBC Radio 1's Web site, Whatever We Wanna was in the Top 20 for the week of June 11, when it was released, but two weeks later it's already out of the Top 40. --Robert Wilonsky
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LeAnn Rimes--"And It Feels Like" (from the U.K.-only release Whatever We Wanna)