The Chipmunks Take the Country Route : Recordings: Billy Ray Cyrus, Waylon Jennings and Tammy Wynette are among the guests on the ‘Chipmunks in Low Places’ album.
A musician may sell millions of records and be idolized everywhere, but he has never truly “made it” until four little critters with squeaky voices invite him to collaborate on their album.
That’s why country music superstar Billy Ray Cyrus, whose debut album topped the pop charts for 16 weeks this year, can now rest easy. He has a guest slot on the Chipmunks’ country album, “Chipmunks in Low Places,” and Cyrus is thrilled.
“I never dreamed as a kid that the Chipmunks would ever cut one of my songs and I just think that’s really cool,” Cyrus said.
The Chipmunks’ helium-voiced version of Cyrus’ dance floor megahit “Achy Breaky Heart” has been on the charts for more than two months with barely any promotion. Also singing along on the 11-track, Nashville-recorded album are Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Daniels, Aaron Tippin and Alan Jackson.
The lovable animated characters--who have sold more than 40 million albums, won five Grammys, and are as busy as ever--celebrate their 35th anniversary next year.
Alvin, Simon, Theodore (and lately Brittany) have ventured into most musical forms--punk, ragtime, the twist, rock, Christmas and Beatles songs. It can only be a matter of time before a Megadeth or Bob Marley song gets the Chipmunk treatment.
Their mentor, Ross Bagdasarian Jr., says another Christmas record is slated for production next year and will feature carols sung to reggae, pop and country accompaniments.
On top of all this, the Chipmunks, TV stars since the 1960s, have just released a selection of adventures on video--including “Funny, I Shrunk the Adults,” “Back to Alvin’s Future” and “Batmunk.”
But it’s the album, a worthy successor to 1981’s platinum smash “Urban Chipmunk,” that is making waves in the music industry. College radio and fraternities are jostling with country dance clubs to get their hands on it and country music stations are playing virtually all the tracks.
How could anyone resist Wynette’s reworking of her classic “Stand by Your Man” with Alvin’s opinionated girlfriend Brittany? Or Tippin berating Simon when he tries to sing a grammatically correct version of “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong With the Radio”?
“I’m not sure whether country music has arrived or the Chipmunks have arrived, but they’re sure doing something special together,” Bagdasarian said.
The Chipmunks were created by Bagdasarian’s father, Ross Sr., who, as David Seville, had a hit in the late 1950s with “Witch Doctor,” which featured a speeded-up voice. That provided the impetus for his follow-up, “The Chipmunk Song,” which sold more than 4.5 million copies in just seven weeks.
Platinum albums, Grammys, extensive merchandising and the animated television series ensured that the Chipmunks held their own, if not surpassed, some of the live acts they emulated.
Ross Sr.'s retirement and then his death in 1972 forced the Chipmunks into hibernation until 1977 when Ross Jr., a lawyer by training, and wife Janice Karman relaunched them to even greater acclaim.
Ross Jr. supplies the voices for Alvin and Simon, while Janice plays Theodore and Brittany.
Each Chipmunk has his own personality: Alvin, the leader, is sassy and mischievous; Theodore is naive and very sensitive; bespectacled Simon is the brains with a dry sense of humor. Brittany, who was added when the Chipmunks were revived, is more than a match for Alvin, a cross between Tanya Tucker and Madonna, Bagdasarian says.
The records may sound like fun, but it’s not just a case of speeding up normal voices.
“We slow the tape down and sing slow. It’s the toughest thing in the world,” Bagdasarian says. “You can barely understand what the key is because you’re hearing the music at half speed-- bonngg-da, bonngg-da. “
Fashions may change, but one of the biggest novelty acts of them all keeps plowing ahead into new musical fields.
“It’s a little bit of Americana now for people who grew up with it,” Bagdasarian says. “It’s like anyone else who can stand the test of time. You take a personality like a Frank Sinatra or Paul Simon and as long as you give them good material to work with . . . then they’re always going to continue to do well.”
1981 studio album by Alvin and the Chipmunks
Urban Chipmunk was the first country album by Alvin and the Chipmunks, released on February 4, 1981. The title parodies the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy.
Original 1981 release
Urban Chipmunk was released on CD in 1993. For this release, the songs "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" and "Made For Each Other" were deleted and replaced with new songs "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Boot Scootin' Boogie". In addition, "I Love a Rainy Night" was retitled "I Love a Rainy Night (Saturday Morning Remix)" with new dialogue added. The cover art was also modified to feature the current character redesign.
1993 CD remaster
|1.||"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Charlie Daniels, Tom Crain, "Taz" DiGregorio, Fred Edwards, Charles Hayward, James W. Marshall)||The Charlie Daniels Band||4:05|
|2.||"Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Chipmunks" (Ed Bruce, Patsy Bruce)||Ed Bruce||3:15|
|3.||"The Gambler" (Don Schlitz)||Bobby Bare||3:13|
|4.||"Lunchbox (feat. Jerry Reed)" (Albert Bouchard, Mike Diamond Sr.)||Jerry Reed||3:10|
|5.||"Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" (Larry Butler, Chips Moman)||B. J. Thomas||4:48|
|6.||"Boot Scootin' Boogie" (Ronnie Dunn)||Brooks & Dunn||3:11|
|7.||"I Love a Rainy Night (Saturday Morning Remix)" (David Malloy, Eddie Rabbitt, Even Stevens)||Eddie Rabbitt||3:45|
|8.||"Coward of the County" (Roger Bowling, Billy Edd Wheeler)||Kenny Rogers||3:57|
|9.||"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (John Denver)||John Denver||1:43|
|10.||"On the Road Again" (Willie Nelson)||Willie Nelson||2:30|
Charts and certifications
Despite mixed reviews, the album ended up earning a Gold certification from the RIAA, the Chipmunks' second Gold album following 1980's Chipmunk Punk.
On the BillboardTop LPs chart, the record peaked at No. 56, while on the country chart, it reached No. 23.
|U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums||23|
|U.S. Billboard 200||56|
- Ross Bagdasarian Jr — producer
- Janice Karman — producer
- Larry Butler — producer
- Billy Sherill — engineer
- Dain & DeJoy — album coordination
- Rick Detorie — art direction and illustrations
- David Foster — project consultant
- John Boylan — project consultant
Chipmunks in Low Places
1992 studio album by Alvin and the Chipmunks
Chipmunks in Low Places is a country album written by John Boylan and Andrew Gold and performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks. It features cover songs as well as original material. Released on September 29, 1992, the album was certified Platinum by the RIAA, becoming the group's first platinum record and making it the Chipmunks' best-selling album. The album reached number 21 on the Billboard 200, becoming their first album to chart in ten years. The album also managed to peak at No. 6 on Billboard's Top Country Albums, making it the highest peaking album for the group on the chart. In Canada, the album peaked at number 9, and was number 49 in the Top 50 Country albums of 1993.
Alvin is broke and is feeling "so blue" about life in general. He cheers himself up to his favorite country songs [track 1]. He brings in his favorite singers to sing with him in his latest album, but every duet ends with an argument [tracks 2-3]. His girlfriend Brittany is in the final process of breaking up with him [tracks 4 and 10]. Coming home to a dirty room, he is so depressed after seeing his guests imitate his mischief that he loses touch with reality and sinks into fairy taleaddiction [track 5], refusing to clean his room in the process. At Charlie Daniels's urging, he starts to be nice to his brothers, but the conversation between them results in the unloading of a lot of unpleasant memories [track 6]. He does a concert in Nashville, but cannot resist destroying his and his brothers' instruments [tracks 7-8]. Grounded for his recent acts of mischief, he tries to hook up with Waylon Jennings, but Mr. Jennings turns down his overtures and badmouths his natural behavior [track 9]. Having scared everyone else away, he utters one final, futile act of self-indignation [track 11].
|1.||"Country Pride"||Paul Peterson, John Boylan||3:23|
|2.||"Achy Breaky Heart" (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)||Don Von Tress||4:49|
|3.||"There Ain't Nothin' Wrong with the Radio" (feat. Aaron Tippin)||Aaron Tippin, Buddy Brock||4:17|
|4.||"Stand by Your Man" (feat. Tammy Wynette)||Tammy Wynette, Billy Sherrill||4:46|
|5.||"Gotta Believe in Pumpkins"||Ross Bagdasarian, Andrew Gold||3:13|
|6.||"Brothers and Old Boots" (feat. Charlie Daniels)||Bagdasarian, Janice Karman, Boylan||4:27|
|7.||"Don’t Rock the Jukebox" (feat. Alan Jackson)||Alan Jackson, Roger Murrah, Keith Stegall||3:44|
|8.||"Down at the Twist and Shout"||Mary Chapin Carpenter||3:28|
|9.||"Outlaws" (feat. Waylon Jennings)||Waylon Jennings||3:51|
|10.||"I Feel Lucky"||Carpenter, Don Schlitz||3:09|
|11.||"I Ain't No Dang Cartoon"||Bagdasarian, Karman, Gold||3:06|
Musicians and vocalists
- John Boylan – producer
- Janice Karman – producer
- Ross Bagdasarian – producer
- Warren Peterson – engineer (Nashville unit)
- Greg Parker – assistant engineer (Nashville unit)
- Traci Sterling – production coordinator (Nashville unit)
- Paul Grupp – engineer (Los Angeles unit)
- Richard Markowitz – assistant engineer (Los Angeles unit)
- Denice Ferguson – production coordinator (Los Angeles unit)
- Teri Wegel – production coordinator (Los Angeles unit)
- Steve "Boots" Karman – art direction
- Tony Le Bruno – cover photo
- Sandra – cover animation art
- Kim Ellis – cover animation art
- Brian Mendelsohn - Digital Recording/Editing
|U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums||6|
|U.S. Billboard 200||21|
|Canadian RPM Country Albums||9|
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Album chipmunks country
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