Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. By 1988, Randy Travis had established himself as the hottest act in country music. In his first two years, he’d scored eight top ten hits, with six peaking at number one. Plus, his first two albums, Storms of Life and Always and Forever, were two of the biggest sellers of that period. So, what would happen when album number three rolled out? More of the same.
Old 8 X 10 was released in November 1988 and spent sixteen non-consecutive weeks at number one. The album sold well enough that it peaked in the mid-thirties on Billboard’s all genre Top 200. Four singles came from the album, of which three would become number one hits.
All four of those singles are now Travis classics. “Honky Tonk Moon” hit number one hit in the latter part of 1988. It’s lazy beat lulls you into the song and before you know it, you are right there, in some small southern town on a hot Saturday night. Very effective track.
“Deeper Than the Holler”, is “take-it-or-leave-it” for me, but I know I’m in the minority, there. This former number one hit is arguably one of his most popular releases. Nice beat and positive lyrics are always…well, a positive.
My personal favorite of the four singles, would have to be the number one “Is It Still Over. Up tempo and hard country, that’s my favorite type of record to play, as an air talent.
“Promises” broke the top twenty in 1989, but garnered a lot of attention at the time, because there was nothing like it on radio play lists. A slow song, that’s practically acapella, with only a guitar to accompany Randy’s vocals. The song is nothing short of spectacular, and the very sparse accompaniment lets it stand out on its own. To me, it should have been an even bigger hit.
“It’s Out of My Hands” is one of the best album cuts you’ll find. This is how a country ballad is supposed to sound. The lyrics are well crafted, as is the melody. And Randy’s vocals are a perfect vehicle for this track.
The title cut, “Old 8 X 10” is another album cut that I rate high. Again, an all-around, well-crafted example of how country music should sound.
“Written in Stone” is catchy upbeat track from the pen of songwriting legend Don Schlitz, who also penned “Deeper Than the Holler”. Besides the fun beat, it has a great message, as well.
“The Blues in Black and White” is a song that has a quirky melody that is somewhat hard to follow.
Also, a bit on the quirky side in the way it’s crafted, is “Here in My Heart”. But it works better. Again, like the opening track, a lazy beat that lulls you deep into the song. Another great track.
“We Ain’t Out of Love Yet” has a very swinging track that I consider a fun song. Not heavy, but a nice toe tapper.
When released, the album was available on vinyl, cassette, and CD. Later, an mp3 version joined the group.
Overall, another excellent effort by one of the top artists of the 1980’s and ’90’s, Randy Travis. In the minds of many, Storms of Life, his 1986 debut, is his benchmark album. Old 8 X 10 is nearly as good. Your opinion?
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About Your 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.