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Keith Urban in the Ranch

Some things were just meant to be - and some things weren't.

Take The Ranch, a threepiece Australian band whose prime assets were a uniquely funky country sound and a stellar guitarist and singer named Keith Urban. In 1992, after having a few hits down under, the group headed off to seek its fortune together in America.

They were quickly snapped up by a major label - but their first single, "Walkin' the Country," stalled. A follow-up, "Just Some Love," also stiffed, and the band's self-titled 1997 debut CD got little attention. The sun had set on The Ranch.

You know the rest of the story: Keith's subsequent solo career has been wildly successful. So much so, in fact, that The Ranch's only album has now been reissued with a couple of nifty, previously unreleased bonus tracks tacked on.

Fans of Keith's solo work will not be shocked by what they hear on The Ranch -- the quality, style and attitude that would later make him a star are all here, although lacking his later degree of confidence and polish. The songs are uniformly strong - one of them, "Some Days You Gotta Dance," even became a hit for the Dixie Chicks.

So why didn't The Ranch hit it big? Maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

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