Mark Wills, Robbie Fulks Pace New Country Releases

Dallas Wayne Follow-Up, Bill Kirchen Trucking Set, Kenny Rogers’ Gambler Also Out

Mark Wills releases his fourth album, and Robbie Fulks sings about domestic strife in new country releases. Kenny Rogers ’ breakthrough album is re-issued, Dallas Wayne follows up his debut and Bill Kirchen offers a collection loaded up with trucking songs.

Wills’ newest is Loving Every Minute on Mercury Nashville. The first single from the album, the title song, already has entered the Top 30 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Wills sings a duet with labelmate Jamie O’Neal on the song “I’m Not Gonna Do Anything Without You.”

Always colorful alt-country singer-songwriter Fulks releases what he considers a personal album, Couples in Trouble, on his own label, Boondoggle Records. The songs are very much about people in trouble, from the “little hotpants” Brenda in “Brenda’s New Stepfather” to the “downtown whores” in “Mad at a Girl.” As ever, Fulks remains very much an acquired taste who -– in his own words -– continues to oppose “the musically balkanized status quo.”

After his impressive HighTone debut album Big Thinkin’ (which was produced by Fulks) in 2000, rough-hewn singer-songwriter Wayne returns with Here I Am in Dallas, also on HighTone. Wayne will be on the TwangBangers Tour beginning Sept. 19 in Seattle, Wash., along with Merle Haggard’s guitarist Redd Volkaert, flamboyant steel guitarist Joe Goldmark and former Commander Cody & His Los Planet Airmen guitarist Kirchen.

Kirchen releases Tied to the Wheel. The nifty collection of trucking and honky-tonk songs is his third set for HighTone. Selections include covers of Tommy Collins’ “Prison Band” and “Roll Truck Roll,” an instrumental, “Poultry in Motion,” and a new treatment of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke,” on which Kirchen shares vocals with award-winning bluegrass singer Dudley Connell.

Rogers’ The Gambler is re-issued again on CD, this time with enhanced features including a digital card game, footage and photos from all five Gambler movies and a screensaver. Originally released on Nov. 15, 1978, The Gambler earned the CMA’s album of the year award and gained a CMA male vocalist of the year award for Rogers. The song “The Gambler,” a No. 1 hit on both Billboard’s top country and pop charts, yielded a Grammy for best country vocal performance.