Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. This Classic Album Review dates to 1975 for a January release from Jessi Colter. I’m Jessi Colter is the album that brought Jessi to the masses.
Prior to this album, her name was somewhat known in Country music, mainly as Waylon Jennings’ wife as she had recorded some sides with him, including two top forty singles, “Suspicious Minds” and “Under Your Spell Again”. She had also released one previous album, 1970’s A Country Star Is Born, which made virtually no impact on the market. But it was a completely different story when Capitol Records issued I’m Jessi Colter, her second album.
The first single, “I’m Not Lisa”, became a massive hit, peaking at number one on the Country charts in May, while climbing into the Pop top five and even hitting sixteen on the Adult Contemporary side. That song was so huge that it seemed like whenever you turned on the radio, there it was. So huge was that song, that it’s often overlooked that the follow-up, “What’s Happened to Blue Eyes” was a top ten hit, peaking at number five on the Country side in the Fall of 1975.
Concerning the album, it would peak at number four on the Country bestseller lists, while hitting a high of fifty on the Pop side. An interesting side note, this was the first of three solo top ten albums for Jessi, all peaking at number four.
“Is There Any Way (You’d Stay Forever)” opens things for this disc. More of a Bluesy-Rock sound, here, with a strong R & B-like rhythm. This song smokes, like the salsa I’m enjoying while writing this. That’s a good thing. I like the sound of this track, and maybe the best singing I’ve ever heard from Jessi.
Jessi gets back to a more Country sound with “I Hear A Song”. She does a good job of showing the emotion that the lyrics have, really capturing the feel of the composition on this mid-tempo.
“Come on In” has an overall sound similar to the opening track, but with a little more Country added to the mix. Still, a smoking’ song, just as the opening track. She has a moderate sultriness in her sound that really shows itself on this track. Another good piece of music, right here.
That sultriness is also found on “You Ain’t Never Been Loved (Like I’m Gonna Love You)”. A really catchy mid-tempo track featuring some good lyrics, and the arrangement is primo. Not quite minimal, but not overly produced, a great producing job (Waylon was co-producer on the disc), on this track. As the B-side to “What’s Happened to Blue Eyes”, this track made a brief Pop chart appearance.
The Country-Blues-Rock mix heard throughout the first side is featured, again, on the side’s final track, “Love’s the Only Chain”. Not as strong of a song as the other two similarly styled tracks, in fact, the repeated lyrics get a bit monotonous. I would like a little more, lyrically. That great sound and Jessi’s very good singing make up for the song’s weakness, though.
Side two opens with the previously mentioned monster hit, “I’m Not Lisa”. One of the classics of the 1970’s. While we may have gotten burned out on the song when it was a hit, thirty-six years later, it’s great piece of work. I say it’s a song that’s ripe for a remake. Who, amongst today’s crop of artists could pull it off?
“For the First Time” is a piece of pure Country enjoyment. A fun, lite, and airy feel to it, what you might call a “feel-good” feel to it.
That sound remains with “Who Walks Thru Your Memory (Billy Jo)”, an enjoyable melody and fine singing from Jessi Colter.
“What’s Happened to Blue Eyes”, as previously mentioned, was the follow-up single, peaking at number five in the Fall of 1975. Mid-tempo, I’ve always thought it to be a good record, deserving of more acclaim than it gets. Really an underrated hit, in my book.
The album wraps with one more well-known Jessi Colter song, “Storms Never Last”. In 1981, it would be a top twenty hit for Jessi and her husband, Waylon Jennings. This solo version is as good as the duet, perhaps even better. I really like it and it’s a good end to what is really a good collection. Now, if you are wondering why this version didn’t get released as a single, I don’t have the definitive answer. I have no way of knowing whether there was any intention to release it. That said, “I’m Not Lisa” was the first single and it’s run of popularity ran from Spring through most of the Summer. And during that time, a version from Dottsy was released as a single, and did become a top twenty Country hit.
Inexplicably, I’m Jessi Colter has not been domestically released on compact disc. It is available as an import, part of a 3 pack with Jessi and Diamond in The Rough. Most vinyl copies I found were in the under $10 range.
Overall, I’m Jessi Colter is a nice blend of a large amount of Country mixed with a good dose of Rock and Blues. There are some very good songs, here, and Jessi Colter is in peak vocal form. I like this album and have no problem recommending it to someone who is wanting to become more familiar with Classic Country music. Worth the buy. As always, your thoughts, comments, and opinions are welcome.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
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ABOUT YOUR AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing 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.