When Kenny Rogers began promoting his latest CD, Water & Bridges, earlier this year, he was treated like a walking punchline thanks to hideously botched plastic surgery; he looked as if he'd inflated his head using a bicycle pump. Despite all the guffaws, however, the disc's lead single, "I Can't Unlove You," reached Billboard's Top 20. Given the relative dearth of 68-year-olds scoring hit tunes, this achievement should be surprising -- but not in Rogers's case. He first came to the public's attention as a member of a folk group, the New Christy Minstrels, before emerging as a quasi-rocker thanks to "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)," an enjoyable dose of bogus psychedelia later featured in The Big Lebowski. That was followed by a rash of cheesy country smashes (like "Lucille") and even cornier crossover offerings (e.g., "Islands in the Stream") that continue to earn easy-listening airplay. Much of this stuff is dreck, but critical dismissals roll off him as easily as nip/tuck jokes. If the planet is ever decimated by nuclear war, expect cockroaches and Kenny to be the only survivors.
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