Greetings from Asheville where good music is on the turntable. Today’s good music is in the form of vintage Charley Pride, as we remember his 10th release, appropriately titled Charley Pride’s 10th Album.
Charley Pride’s 10th Album was the second of an incredible four albums that RCA Victor released on Charley Pride in 1970. This album was released in June. Seven of the ten tracks had been recorded in January, while two others, including the hit “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone”, were recorded in August 1969. One track, “I Think I’ll Take A Walk”, was a holdover from a January 1969 session. Felton Jarvis produced the sessions, which featured some top-notch session players such as Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Junior Huskey, and Jerry Reed.
June was the release date, and in August, it began an eight week stay at number one on Billboard’s country album chart.
The album begins with the song “Able Bodied Man”, a song that certainly hit home for many, at that time, as it talks about a man on the move for the sake of a job. He’s lost his and it’s forced a change in plans for him and his lady.
Charley is always at his best with love songs, and he proves that, again, twice, on the first side (if you’re listening to the LP version), with “Through The Years” (not the later Kenny Rogers hit), and “The Thought Of Losing You.” While neither song particularly stands out on their own merits, Charley’s performance carries both tracks. Charley Pride is an artist who not only excels on stellar material but can take lesser songs and make them better.
“Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone”. One of my favorite Charley Pride songs of all-time. When I originally wrote this review, ten years ago (2010), I noted that it got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from my then-four-year-old daughter. I never get tired of this one. Great lyrics and a melody that sticks with you.
“I Think I’ll Take A Walk” is a throwback song, even by 1970 standards. Heavy steel guitar, this recording has a definite 1950’s feel to it. And that’s a good thing.
Side 2 opens with “Things Are Looking Up”. It’s an alright song but does contains a great line in “I went to church with the kids and it didn’t fall”. You never know when a memorable line might grab you.
With the song, “Special”, my wife and I both found ourselves snapping fingers soon after it began. The song’s subject is a hobo, who, while loving the hobo life, finds himself missing the girl he left behind.
On “A Poor Boy Like Me”, it’s the girl who’s left, being lured away by the promises of the bright lights, money, and the things that the city seems to promise. It’s a decent song, but not quite as strong as other tracks on the album. Again, Charley Pride’s performance strengthens the song.
“(There’s) Nothing to Go Home To” starts out a bit bland, but then, just as you start zoning out, Wham! The refrain comes in and hits you upside the head, commanding your full attention. Think Conway Twitty’s “How Much More Can She Stand”, though this song isn’t as strong.
And finally, we wrap up with a little rumba-styled country, with “This Is My Year for Mexico”, which a few years later, would be a chart single for Crystal Gayle. Good song and good vocals, but the rumba rhythm doesn’t quite work, for me.
As I previously mentioned, the thing about Charley Pride is that he can take an average or below average song and make it better. “Poor Boy Like Me”, “Things Are Looking Up”, and “Through the Years” are prime examples. These songs, by themselves, are decent, but sound much better when performed by Charley Pride.
This album is still available as an MP3 and has been on CD, as well. In its original form, it was released on vinyl, reel-to-reel, and 8-track. I’m unsure if it’s ever been on cassette. Used prices on Amazon and eBay are mostly under $10 for records, while CD’s are going a little higher. Goldmine values near-mint copies at $25.
Overall, this is a good, but not great album. There are stronger Charley Pride albums, but if you’re a fan of Charley, you’re still going to like this one, if you’ve never heard it. Of course, “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone” is a classic, one of his best recordings, ever. The other nine tracks may not stand out, but most are good tracks. Even the album’s weakest compositions are better by simply having Charley Pride sing them.
Your thoughts, comments, and memories are always welcome in the comment section, below.
Saving vinyl one record at a time.
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ABOUT THE 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.