Nashville country-rocker Becky Hobbs has the distinction of having an album cover supposedly too risque for Wal-Mart stores.
At least that was the opinion of her record company.
The first cover for Miss Hobbs' From Oklahoma With Love album, independently produced by Miss Hobbs' husband, Duane Sciacqua, showed her riding a large keyboard like a stick horse.
But marketing experts at Intersound Records of Atlanta thought it might offend certain Wal-Mart customers, a major target for country music distributors, so the cover was changed to a more traditional one.
"I think it's funny Intersound feels my original cover was that risqué, considering what some other album covers look like," Miss Hobbs said with a laugh, "but their marketing people should know what Wal-Mart customers want. So I went along with the change, even though it seemed rather silly."
No matter how the outside cover looks, country music critics are raving about Miss Hobbs' recording.
Ralph Novak, writing in the July 13 issue of People magazine said, "Playful and appealingly varied, this album aptly demonstrates that Hobbs is a generally livelier and less stiff country singer than her fellow Sooners, Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. She also fills her music with an earthy honesty. This album not only showcases her true, energetic voice, it also displays her composing talents. . . . It is good to see her finally find a place of her own in the spotlight."
Miss Hobbs also has released a music video of one track from the album, Country Girls. The song was co-authored by Miss Hobbs and Mr. Sciacqua, who plays and records with former Eagles' member Glen Frey.
The song's chorus goes: "Country girls hit you like a rocket. Country girls don't take no bull. Country girls know they really got it, cause country mommas don't raise no fools."
"We filmed the video the last week of May in the hayloft of a barn outside Nashville," Miss Hobbs said in a telephone interview. "It had rained the whole night before, and, when the sun came out the next morning, the humidity and the heat were unbearable. The video lights made it hot as hell, but the video turned out great. It's rocking."
Miss Hobbs' career continues to be rocking. She and her husband performed in January at the Midem recording industry convention in Cannes, France, and they were in Norway in late June for a country-music festival.
"I had played this festival on July 4 in Skjak (pronounced shock) twice before in '87 and '91," Miss Hobbs said. "It is outdoors in the mountains, six hours by car north of Oslo. . . . It was cold that night and pouring down rain throughout my show. Those hearty Norwegians, however, were rowdy, falling down drunk, and having the time of their lives, while we were freezing to death. They drink some homemade stuff like our moonshine."