Clay Walker Clashes With Curb Records

Clay WalkerLooks like I’m a step behind this story, but apparently country star Clay Walker has joined a growing list of artists sideways with country label Curb Records. That list includes heavy hitters Leanne Rimes, perfume magnate Tim McGraw, and the Hank Williams legacy of Hank Williams Jr. and Hank III.

Just like with Tim McGraw and Leanne Rimes, Walker disapproves with how Curb packages and releases music among other things. Curb’s attempt is to boost sales, but releasing previous material along with new material in a non-cohesive manner confuses fans and makes artists look like money grubbers.

Clay’s most recent album She Won’t Be Lonely Long was released on June 8th, but in February, in a very unusual move, Curb released a five song EP with the same exact name, which included two new songs and three old ones from his previous album Fall.

When interviewed by CMT, Clay said “That’s a pretty sore subject with me. I just try to avoid talking about it.” But as the interview went on, Clay let slide some hints of where his problems with Curb lie. “The only thing that strikes me is that we need to get more music out quicker to the fans,” says Walker, who had to wait 3 years between the Fall and She Won’t Be Lonely Long releases, not including the clumsy EP project. Part of the problem was a producer change in the middle of recording. Tim McGraw and Hank III have also battled Curb over timely release of their material.

Another beef has to do with single releases. Clay asserted that a track he wrote himself called “Summertime Song” would have been a better single, but Curb released “Where Do I Go From You” instead. “There can only be one boss,” Clay said, “and we know who that is. But it’s OK. That’s the way it goes.”

Clay also hinted that music gets “manipulated” by Curb, and that all the he can contribute that doesn’t get manipulated is the song structure and words.

“You still have to write great songs for people to live with. It’s something that can’t be manipulated. You can manipulate music with Pro Tools. You can manipulate voices. But you cannot manipulate words. They are what they are. And the melody is what it is. So the song’s the only thing that’s non-changing in our business.”

Clay does give credit to Curb for their “promotional muscle,” but in what appears to be a three year running battle, Curb has figured out how to get sideways with yet another one of its superstars.