Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable. Today’s Classic Album Review looks back at a work from Ronnie Milsap. In an era when the Country-Pop sound was the dominant force, a significant portion of the music was good, but not special. There was nothing that would simply glue your ear to a speaker in a condition of “must-listen” to this work. Producers and labels were taking Country singers and trying to make them sound contemporary. It simply didn’t have an inspired feel, in most cases. The exception to that is Ronnie Milsap. Here’s a guy whose influences were Country, Rock, and R & B. He sounds equally at home singing Ray Charles or Ray Price. Ronnie Milsap is an artist whose Country-Pop efforts are generally excellent.
By 1982, Ronnie was at his commercial peak. He was in the midst of forty-eight straight top ten singles with RCA (I exclude a couple of Warner Bros. vault releases), of which thirty-five would become chart-toppers. He scored his third gold album in 1981, with There’s No Gettin’ Over Me. His last seven singles had all topped the Country charts, and the last three had broken into the Pop top thirty. “(There’s No) Gettin’ Over Me” climbed into the pop top five. Things were looking good for Ronnie, when RCA Victor shipped his latest album, Inside, in June 1982. Inside was Ronnie’s fourteenth album for the label. It was also his fourteenth top ten album, peaking at number four on the charts. The three singles from the album extended Ronnie’s consecutive number one streak to ten.
The album opens with the first single, “Any Day Now”. The tune had been a 1962 top forty Pop hit for R & B singer Chuck Jackson and a 1979 top forty Country hit for Don Gibson. Ronnie’s version bettered the originals, hitting the top of the Country chart, while peaking at fourteen on the Pop side. One of my Ronnie Milsap favorites, this is simply the complete package. If you’re going to mix Country and Pop, this is the ingredient list to go by. Ronnie’s R & B influences show on this track, as well. Lots of soul, here, on an outstanding track.
Another of my favorite Milsap hits (and a 45 I had to have upon its release), is the title cut. “Inside” was the last of the three singles, debuting at the end of 1982. Just like “Any Day Now”, the way you should do Country-Pop, in this case, it lacks the Soul influence. I have always thought this to be a great ballad, and you know what? It still is. “Inside” was written by former Cincinnati Bengal defensive lineman-turned-songwriter Mike Reid.
Record buyers and radio stations flipped “Inside” over and also gave “Carolina Dreams” many spins. Another ballad, this composition isn’t quite as strong, yet it’s still a strong track. Whereas the first two cuts are outstanding, this one is “only” very good.
“Wrong End of The Rainbow” is a great Country ballad featuring outstanding vocals by Ronnie. Only criticism, here, is that for the type of song it is, the arrangement falls a little too far into the lush side. But that was normal for 80’s music in general.
As a composition, “I Love New Orleans Music” lacks, lyrically. but the beat and funky mix of Country, Soul, and Dixieland make for a fun listen.
Side two opens with album’s second single, “He Got You”, a chart topper during the Fall of 1982. More of a Country-rocker, I must admit that it didn’t do as much for me as the other two did.
“Hate the Lies – Love the Liar” is a ballad that falls into the plain that lies between the mountains of good and bad. Good, but not a track that’s particularly memorable.
Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan wrote several hits during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Here, they contribute the song “Who’s Counting”. Great track that briefly charted as a single for Marie Osmond. Mid-tempo track, with a refrain that catchy and will stick with you for a while.
“You Took Her Off My Hands (Now Please Take Her Off My Mind)” is good solid country music. It shows Ronnie’s sometimes overlooked abilities at handling pure country music. The guy is so good at so many types of music.
The album ends with the ballad “It’s Just A Room”. Kind of a quirky song, particularly the melody. That’s the best way I can explain it. It’s an interesting song to listen to.
Overall, this is a the typically good effort of Ronnie Milsap. The album provides a little bit of all styles of country music. Side two drops off, some, from side one, but even at that, there’s no stomach-turning awful songs, here. Even the weakest work is still an easy, pleasurable listen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.