Bill Anderson & Jan Howard “For Loving You” Classic Album Review
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music flows like a fine wine. Today’s Classic Album Review is of 1968 vintage; February, to be exact. Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, in my opinion, is one of country music’s more underrated duos. While there hit list isn’t as long as Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn’s or Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s, a listen to their harmonies reveals a sound that is nearly as good as the more famous pairings. Interestingly enough, of the three duos, Bill and Jan had the longest running number one single, 4 weeks, with “For Loving You”, the title cut of today’s featured album. The album was released by Decca Records about a month after the single peaked at number one. While “For Loving You” was the album’s only hit single, the album, itself, did quite well, peaking at six on the album lists.
“For Loving You” would turn out to be one of the top hits of 1967. It opens the album in style, giving you one of the classic sounds of the era. Simply a great track.
Next, you get a completely different take on a Buck Owens hit, as Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on “Above And Beyond (The Call Of Love)”. It’s given a slower, slicker pace than the original, but it works pretty well, overall.
Unfortunately, for me, “I Love You Because” doesn’t come off nearly as well. It feels as if they’re trying to give it the same feel as “For Loving You”, from the tempo, right down to the spoken parts, yet for this track, it just doesn’t quite work for me. Had they done it in it’s original form, though, I think it could have been a killer track.
One track that does work well is their take on the Hank Cochran song “I’d Fight The World”. It was a minor 1962 hit for Hank, and a hit in 1974 for Jim Reeves. Right here is some of the best work these two ever did, together.
You get a nice pickup in tempo with their take on Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”. Don’t expect anything like the original, but that’s okay, the Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on this classic works pretty well.
Side one ends with “Till Death Do Us Part”, which again, tries to emulate the “For Loving You” sound, and again, for me, falls a little short. Not a bad track, yet, not one that will particularly stay with you, either.
While some of the efforts to take copy the sound and style of “For Loving You” fall a little flat, side two’s opening track is a solid effort. “I Thank God For You” is in the same vein, yet with enough difference to not sound like a clone, this track is about a step below the title cut, in quality, but still very good, in fact, I think they might have missed a potential hit single, here.
Another enjoyable track is their take on the Lulu Belle And Scotty classic, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”. A really nice interpretation, it sounds like the song was written specifically for Bill Anderson and Jan Howard.
On “Born To Be With You”, you get nothing fancy, just a good, solid take on the Chordettes’ hit, that later in 1968, would hit number one on the country charts for Sonny James. Nice, smooth sound, here.
Okay, how many times has this subject been used in a country song (even by 1968)? Man leaves girlfriend to roam the world and (in his mind) to make his fortune. The girlfriend vows to remain true to him, no matter how long he’s gone or no matter what happens. Sadly, when he does return, the girlfriend is now either someone else’s wife, or she has died (the latter happens, here). Such is the case with “I’ll Be Waiting”. Though the subject is an oft-used one, the song doesn’t have the “been-there, heard-that” feel to it. You will find a good track, here.
Wrapping up the collection is a good version of the old standard, “Beyond The Sunset”. I think there’s a more intimate feel, here, than in most versions, which only makes the lyrics that much more effective. Credit Bill Anderson and Jan Howard for being able to do so, without making it sound syrupy.
Long out of print, a little searching should turn up some used copies. The ones I found were generally under $10, though a couple were in the $20 range.
The obvious choice for Standout Track is “For Loving You”, while my Hidden Gem choice is “I Thank God For You”. Weakest Track, “I Love You Because”.
Overall, it’s a nice effort from two greats of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t record more than they did, because, again, their sound, together, was on par with the other great duets of the era. One possible reason may well be that one of those greats, Conway and Loretta, also recorded on Decca, as well. I think this album is a good 3.5 out of 5.