Picks and Pans Review: Storm in the Heartland

updated 11/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Billy Ray Cyrus

Take me to redneck heaven," Billy Ray Cyrus sings on his second album since his "Achy Breaky Heart"-fueled debut. To get there, Cyrus will need a ticket out of the purgatory he now inhabits: the limbo land between country music and rock and roll, where Cyrus often combines some of the worst aspects of each.

Grafting rock's weakness for macho pomposity onto country's tendency to stray into ersatz emotionalism, Cyrus comes up with an unappetizing hybrid that somehow manages to plod and strut simultaneously. The self-dramatizing bombast of "How Much" could win him a nomination in a Meat Loaf of Country Music contest, but the most over-the-top number here is "Enough Is Enough," which addresses child abuse and Third World dictatorships in 3 minutes and 43 seconds. Must be trying to pile up credit in redneck heaven. Given that the public's fascination with the hair-tossing hip-swiveler seems to be ebbing—an Oct. 6 special on ABC, Billy Ray Cyrus: A Year on the Road, clocked at No. 91, dead last, in that week's Nielsen ratings—Storm in the Heartland may turn out to be only a squall. (Mercury)

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