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Classic Album Reviews

Loretta Lynn “Woman Of The World/To Make A Man” Classic Album Review

Loretta Lynn "Woman Of The World"Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable.  Today, we look back at one of the many releases from the legendary Loretta Lynn.  Woman Of The World/To Make A Man was Loretta’s fourteenth Decca release (excluding compilations).  Released in June, 1969, it was also her final release of the decade.  The album did well, peaking at number two on the bestseller lists, while also just breaking into the Top 150 on the Pop side.  The album features two hit singles, which, in this case, are both of the title cuts.

One of the title cuts lead off the album, Loretta’s number one hit from Spring of 1969, “Woman Of The World”.  One of Loretta’s best, right here.  It’s that simple.

“Johnny One Time” is a song that both Willie Nelson and Brenda Lee had singles on, and while Loretta’s version was only an album cut, I would argue it’s as good as the other two versions.  Great vocal job, in fact, you’d swear it was written with Loretta in mind, it’s that good.

I also like the ballad “If You Were Mine To Lose”.  The song isn’t quite as strong as the first two, but it’s still a very good track, and Loretta’s performance is excellent.

Pretty good, is how I would describe “The Only Time I Hurt”.  A steady track that may not stand out, but not likely to skip over, either.

“No One Will Ever Know” was already an old song, when Loretta recorded it for this album, having been released back in the late 1940′s by Roy Acuff.  The song would eventually enjoy hit status in 1980, when Gene Watson just missed the top ten with his version.  For me, Gene’s is the definitive version, but I really like Loretta’s take; a fine performance.

Side one ends with “Big Sister, Little Sister”, which starts with how the big sister would always make way for the little sister, so the little one could have her way, now they’re adults, a man’s involved;…do you know where this is going?  Yep, big sister loves the man, but little sister marries him.  That said, for a song that’s pretty easy to peg, it’s not as bad as one might think.  Not the album’s best, but not a terrible track.

Side two opens with the album’s other hit single/title track, “To Make A Man (Feel Like A Man)”, which became a top five hit in late Summer, 1969.  A bouncy track that I would describe as a typical Loretta song; in this case telling women how they should treat their men.

Next, Loretta Lynn covers the Merle Haggard classic “Today I Started Loving You Again”.  A little quicker paced than most version, it almost feels a little rushed, which is unfortunate, because her vocals are good, and with a pace closer to the Haggard original, I think this could have been a killer track.  Still decent, though.

Another cover track features Loretta giving her take on the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By Your Man”.  While no one will ever come close to Tammy’s version, this one is decent.

“Ten Little Reasons” is classic Loretta.  The self-penned tear-jerker is a great album cut; one of the highlights of the album.

The album has a fine wrap-up with “I’m Lonesome For Trouble Tonight”, which Loretta co-wrote with Doyle Wilburn of the Wilburn Brothers.  Good, solid track to put the wraps on this album.

Somewhat surprising that this album has yet to join the ranks of reissues; having been out of print for many years.  Used copies are relatively numerous, most that I saw were in the $10 to $15 range.

“Woman Of The World” gets my Standout Track nod, while “Johnny One Time” is the Hidden Gem of this disc. Weakest Track? “Big Sister, Little Sister”; not a terrible track, but lags a bit behind the other ten.

Overall, a solid performance from one of the great legends of the genre.  While I wouldn’t consider this to be her best long-play, it’s still a worthy collection of tracks that if you like Loretta Lynn, you’ll most likely enjoy this album.  I rate it a 4 out of 5.

Your thoughts?

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - July 24, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Categories: Classic Album Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

George Jones “You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart” Classic Album Review

George Jones "You've Still Got A Place In My Heart"Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable, or in the CD player.  Today’s Classic Album Review pulls a long play from the stack of the legendary George Jones, one of his estimated sixty-plus albums of original material.  Released in May, 1984, by Epic Records, You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart would climb as high as seventeen on the bestseller lists.  Only one single, the title cut, was released from the album, a somewhat unusual happening on albums, by the 1980′s.

The title cut opens this collection.  An old Leon Payne written song that previously had been a Country 20 hit for Con Hunley, as well as a pop single for Dean Martin, George’s version, to this point, has been the only top ten version, climbing as high as number three in the Spring of 1984.  Great ballad, perfectly suited for George, and one of his more underrated hit.

“From Strangers, To Lovers, To Friends” is also a vintage George Jones-style song.  Fine performance, of course, makes an otherwise ordinary song, that much better.

“The Second Time Around” is another okay ballad; again, the song itself, is nothing particularly special (an okay piece), but, again, when you have George Jones singing, even a most ordinary number is elevated two or three notches.

“Come Sundown” was a 1971 top ten hit for Bobby Bare, and George gives a really nice interpretation, here.  George’s incredible ability to get to the heart with his vocal is really apparent, here.  You like George, you’ll like this track.

Side one ends with George’s take on the song “Even The Bad Times Are Good”, which Jerry Wallace had a single on, back in 1964.  George’s version, in my opinion, was single-worthy.  Good way to end the first side.

Side two opens with a song that George wrote and became Moon Mullican’s final hit in 1961, “I’m Ragged But I’m Right”.  A bouncy track, in fact, the first up tempo piece on the album.  A light-hearted, fun piece that is enjoyable to listen to.

Perhaps the most interesting cover on the album is George’s take on the 1954 T. Texas Tyler hit, “Courtin’ In The Rain”.  Kind of a goofy piece, yet if you like George’s novelty work like ‘I’m A People” or “Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half As Bad As Losing You)”, then you’ll like it.

“Love Shine” is a novelty-ish track that falls into a similar vein of “Love Bug”, with a little “White Lightin’ mixed in.  Not nearly as strong as those two Jones classics, but still not a terrible track.

One of the album’s best cuts would be George’s take on the early John Anderson hit, “Your Lying Blue Eyes”.  I really like this track.  Good, solid country music.

The album’s wrap-up track is also pretty decent, “Learning To Do Without Me” is pure George Jones at his best.  A medium-slow song that is full of heartache, but not morbidly so.  George nails it, as usual.

This album’s been out of print for several year, but you can find used copies with a little searching.  Most I saw were around $10.

The title cut gets the Standout Track nod, while I have to give “Your Lying Blue Eyes” the Hidden Gem.  Weakest Track? “The Second Time Around” is a pretty ordinary track, though again, with George Jones singing, it’s elevated in terms of quality.  But the song, itself, is weaker than the other nine.

Overall, this is an okay, not spectacular album.  After checking the release date of it, compared to it’s predecessor (Jones Country, released in October, 1983) and it’s follow-up (Ladies Choice, released in September, 1984), one has to wonder if this album was merely, at least in the eyes of Epic Records, a filler between the two, rather than release another single from Jones Country.  Still, it’s not a bad album, though not nearly the best of George Jones’ extensive discography, but still worth an occasional listen.  I rate it a 3 out of 5.

Your thoughts?

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - April 22, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Categories: Classic Album Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Clay Walker “Hypnotize The Moon” Classic Album Review

1995 album from Clay Walker, "Hypnotize The Moon"Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable or in the CD player.  Today’s Classic Album Review became a million-seller, following it’s release by the Giant label in October, 1995;  Clay Walker’s Hypnotize The Moon.  The album peaked at ten on the bestseller lists, while yielding four singles, including three top ten hits.

The album kicks off with one of the top ten hits, “Who Needs You Baby”, which just missed number one in the latter part of 1995.  Good, solid melody that sticks with you and good for some occasional spins.

One of the album’s best tracks and a Hidden Gem contender is “I Won’t Have The Heart”.  A great track that should have been a single, in my opinion.  One of the album’s high points, featuring strong lyrics and a great melody.  How this got overlooked???

Great fiddle intro for “Let Me Take The Heartache (Off Your Hands)”, a pure country ballad.  This is the kind of song you point to when someone complains about 1990′s Country; yes, there was good, strong Country music in that decade, and not all of it made it to the radio.

One that did make it to radio and very nearly number one, is the album’s title track.  I’d argue that “Hypnotize The Moon” was one of the decade’s best ballads.  Simply an outstanding piece.

“Hand Me Down Heart” is an okay song; good beat, but admittedly, I’m rather neutral on this one.

“Only On Days That End In ‘Y” was the album’s third top ten hit, peaking at five during the Summer of 1996.  Maybe a step below the album’s other two top ten hits, strength-wise, but still a good track that’s fun and easy to like.

Another Hidden Gem contender is the ballad “Where Were You”, Simply put, nothing to not like about this track.  Strong, solid material.

“Loving You Comes Naturally To Me” is okay, but really didn’t hold my attention.  Seemed to drag, some.

The album’s fourth single was the only one to miss the top ten.  ”Bury The Shovel”  peaked at eighteen during the Fall of 1996.  A slow, Spanish-style start morphs into a quick paced piece.  Average lyrics, but I’ve always liked the melody, particularly the refrain, which I would consider to be rather catchy.

“A Cowboy’s Toughest Ride” has a melody and feel that is slightly reminiscent of the Boy Howdy hit “A Cowboy’s Born With A Broken Heart”.  I like this one.  Fine effort, on this ballad.

The album wraps with yet another ballad, “Love Me Like You Love Me”.  Good track to end the album.  I don’t like it quite as much as some of the other ballads, here, but it’s not bad.

Originally released on compact disc and cassette, this album remains available on compact disc, as well as MP3 download.  As for used copies, they are generally inexpensive.  I found several in the $5 range.

I have to give the title track my Standout Track.  ”I Won’t Have The Heart” gets my Hidden Gem nod.  ”Loving You Comes Naturally To Me” just didn’t do it for me, I consider it the Weakest Track.

Overall, a solid effort, on this disc.  The music is strongly Country and Clay’s vocal work is exceptional.  The material is generally very good with a couple of outstandings mixed in.  I have to give it a 4 out of 5.

Your thoughts?

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - April 16, 2013 at 7:59 PM

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Bobby Helms “I’m The Man” Classic Album Review

1966 album from Bobby Helms, "I'm The Man"Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, or in the CD player.  Today’s Classic Album Review is a 1966 release from fellow Hoosier Bobby Helms.  In 1957, Bobby burst onto the scene with two big hits, “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel”.  Both would spend 4 weeks on top of the Country charts, while also appearing in the Pop Top 40, where “My Special Angel” would climb into the top ten.  1957 was also the year of his classic “Jingle Bell Rock”.  Bobby would have two more top ten hits in 1958, but after 1960, would never return into the Country 40, despite regularly recording into the 1980′s.  By 1966, he had left Decca Records (the home of his success), for Kapp Records.  At Kapp, he would release one album and a handful of singles, but resulting in no real hits.  That one Kapp LP is the focus of today’s Classic Album Review.

Released in January, I’m The Man featured only one single release, which like the album, failed to chart.

The album opens with the title cut, the album’s only single, released towards the end of 1965.  Unfortunately, a record that never charted, because it’s a pretty decent track, actually.  Good, pure country music that should have at least made the Country 40, in my opinion.

Next, Bobby tackles the Lolita pop hit, “Sailor (Your Home Is The Sea)”, in English, of course.  Not a bad track, he handles it pretty well, of course with a much stronger pop sound than the opening cut.

“Stop The World And Let Me Off” was a big 1958 hit for Johnny And Jack, and returned to the charts in 1965, courtesy of a young Waylon Jennings.  Here, Bobby gives it a completely different take, turning it into a slower ballad.  While I still like the quicker versions, I have to say this came off pretty well.

Perhaps the album’s best track is “Ten Thousand Tears”.  Someone at Kapp missed a potential single, here.  Good beat, contemporary (for 1966) sound, good strong song.  I really like this one.  Easily the album’s Hidden Gem.

“Marie, Marie” is an okay ballad.  A fairly typical love song from a soldier to his love back home.  Not bad, but not anything special.  Like pretty much all of the cuts, though, Bobby Helms’ work is fine.

Side one ends with a more Pop sounding “Lollipops And Roses”, which sounds more like a 1950′s Top 40 ballad.  Again, a track that is okay, but not anything special; it actually sounds a little dated, even for 1966.  Not the strongest composition on the album, either.

Side two opens with an interesting take on the Buck Owens hit “Act Naturally”.  Overall, it comes off pretty well, though it sounds like they are reaching the upper limits of Bobby Helms’ range.

Another track that I like, here, is “Keep ‘Em Laughin’”, a track that is country at it’s best.  Surprising that no one ever turned this song into a hit single.  In fact, Bobby’s version would have been a good single, in my opinion.

Next, Bobby takes on former label-mate Brenda Lee’s hit, “Fool No. 1″, and does so pretty well.  Utilizing a quicker pace than Brenda’s hit, and featuring some prominent fiddle work, again, one has to feel, when hearing this, that Kapp may have missed a potential single, here.

“Twin Of An Angel” keeps the solid Country music flowing, here, a track that’s not the album’s strongest, but it’s still a quality piece, and something enjoyable to listen to.  Again, some very good singing work by Bobby Helms.

“Have This Love On Me” has a little bit more Pop feel, but I like this one, as it has a great rhythm and melody.  Pretty decent work, here.

I think the album’s closing track is yet another piece that deserves recognition for good music.  ”I Close My Eyes (And See It All)” is yet another track that I’d argue could have been a decent single.  Good beat, mixed with some solid fiddle work, this is a really good closing track, ending the album on a rather high note.

Long out of print, this album can be found with a little effort, the ones I saw were generally around $10.

“I’m The Man” the only single, gets the Standout Track, while as I’ve already stated, “Ten Thousand Tears” is the Hidden Gem.  ”Marie, Marie” is the track that didn’t do much for me, thus the Weakest Track.

Overall, this is a really good effort that never got much acclaim.  Sadly, by the mid-1960′s, Bobby had long faded from chart success, and despite regularly recording, was never able to recreate that period of “Fraulein”, “My Special Angel”, and “Jingle Bell Rock”.  Yet, this album shows that Bobby Helms could still deliver the goods, and one has to wonder why it wasn’t more successful.  For that matter, why wasn’t the single more successful.  Not knowing much about Kapp Records at that time, I can’t say if it was something, there, or just the country audience’s changing taste.  Either way, it’s some good music that’s been missed by too many for too many years.  I rate it a 4 out of 5.

Your thoughts?

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

5 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - April 8, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Categories: Classic Album Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mac Davis “Texas In My Rear View Mirror” Classic Album Review

"Texas In My Rear View Mirror", a 1980 Mac Davis releaseGreetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable.  Today, we look back at a Mac Davis effort on the Classic Album Review; his 1980 Casablanca release Texas In My Rear View Mirror”.  The album would climb as high as twelve on the Country bestseller lists, while also breaking into the Pop 100.  The album featured four singles, including two top ten hits.

The album kicks off with one of the two top ten hits, “Hooked On Music”, a piece of 1980′s style Rockabilly, that conjurs up images of Buddy Holly, and Elvis.  Not my favorite Mac Davis song, but you can’t argue with it’s success, as it was his highest charting Country single, peaking at two in the Spring of 1981.

The album is a mix of songs that fall into the Country and Pop categories, not unexpected given his success in both fields.  ”Remember When (Beverly’s Song)” falls squarely into the latter, with a soft Pop sound that is pretty much what was being heard on early 80′s Top 40 radio.  With that in mind, it’s a good track, showing his abilities with Pop are as solid as with Country.

Also leaning more in the Pop side, is “Me ‘n Fat Boy”, in which the intro sounds like an impersonation of Jimmy Riddle and Jackie Phelps from “Hee Haw”.  The rest of the song, though, actually has a melody and rhythm that remind me of Paul Simon’s “Me And Julio Down By The School Yard”.   Not the album’s strongest piece, but still a quality song that is worth a listen or two.

The pendulum swings back towards Country with “Hot Texas Night”.  A slow ballad that reminds me a bit of his first big hit, “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me”, but it’s certainly not the same song, at all.  This is a strong ballad, and gives a good argument that one could make of Mac Davis being underrated, when it comes to ballad singing.

Side one ends with pure country on the track “Sad Songs”.  A 3/4 time, with a heavy dose of steel guitar, this is pure country, Texas style.  Good song, but the overall performance is excellent.  A Hidden Gem contender.

Side two opens with the album’s other top ten hit, which also happens to be the title track.  One of my favorite Mac Davis songs, “Texas In My Rear View Mirror” would sneak into the top ten, in late 1981, peaking at nine.

“Hello, Hollywood” falls more along the Pop reins, utilizing unique chord structures and a minimal arrangement (for early 1980′s Pop) to create a one of the album’s better tracks, a definite Hidden Gem contender.

“Rodeo Clown” was the album’s final single, but wasn’t released until after he had already scored a hit with “You’re My Bestest Friend” from his next album, Midnight Crazy.  The single just snuck into the Country 40, during the Summer of 1982.

“Secrets” also saw life as a single, but could only muster a peak of forty-seven on the Country chart.  The main reason, I think, is that even for the early 1980′s, it’s sound was just too Pop for Country radio.  The single also briefly charted on the Pop 100, as well.  Not a bad song, with a medium tempo and heavy drum rhythm.  It’s a pure Pop sound, but a pretty good one.

The album wraps with a ballad, “In The Eyes Of My People”.  A nice ballad that gives a good end to this album.

The album is off the market, but was originally released on vinyl, 8-track, and cassette.  Used copies seem to be pretty easy to find, most going under $10.

“Texas In My Rear View Mirror” is my Standout Track, while I give “Sad Songs” the Hidden Gem, though you could argue strongly for “Hello, Hollywood”, too.  Quality-wise, the album is pretty consistent, really, so to call one weak is really hard to do.  Some tracks I like better than others, but they are all pretty comparable.

Overall, Mac Davis does a good job of mixing the Pop and the Country, together, and the album has a surprisingly good flow to it, with the mix of sounds.  Good solid material, here.  I rate it a 4 out of 5.

Your thoughts?

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

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3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - April 4, 2013 at 7:41 AM

Categories: Classic Album Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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