Picks and Pans Review: Third Rock from the Sun

updated 08/22/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Joe Diffie

No sooner had Joe Diffie made the leap from working as a foundry machinist to C&W in 1990 with his debut, A Thousand Winding Roads, than he immediately became a balladeer to reckon with. Even now, on his fourth album, his soaring range on the slow ones is still his strength. By contrast, good-time romps like "I'm in Love with a Capital 'U' " and "Pickup Man" sound obligatory. Too bad. Hearing gems like the ballads "Wild Blue Yonder" and the achingly affecting "That Road Not Taken" ("Yesterday I missed my exit/ On my way to Sears/ A song was on the radio/ I hadn't heard in years"), it's hard not to get annoyed with the forced conviviality and proudly know-nothing lyrics of the party anthems surrounding them. (Epic)"

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