Garth Brooks

In...The Life of Chris Gaines

  • Capitol

The sales-obsessed Garth Brooks has come up with yet another new angle to squeeze some more cash from his fanatical followers. No, it's not multiple album covers on a lightweight live album like last year. This time out, Brooks takes on the persona of fictional pop star Chris Gaines. The album is being released more than a year in advance of a planned film about Gaines, in which Brooks is slated to play the starring role.

Supposedly a chronicle of Gaines' greatest hits, this very lightweight affair does prove that a world that turned Garth Brooks into a superstar probably could do the same for Chris Gaines.

To give Brooks, or Gaines, his due, there are a handful of mildly appealing songs here, including the upper-octave, Kenny Loggins-flavored album opener “That's The Way I Remember It” and the tasty “Driftin' Away.”

But the bulk of the other tracks, from the Wallflowers' takeoff “Unsigned Letter” and the Footloose fake-off “Digging for Gold,” to the Beatles-inspired “Maybe,” are flat out dreadful. Even the single “Right Now,” which melds Cheryl Wheeler's “If It Were Up to Me” with the Youngbloods' “Get Together,” comes across as a third-rate bar band on a very strange night.

Kevin O'Hare