Classic Album Review-Alabama “40 Hour Week”
After spending a few days in the 1960’s and ’70’s eras, we move into the 1980’s for today’s review. 1985, in fact, for the sixth RCA album release from Alabama. “Forty Hour Week” was released in January, and would spend twelve weeks on top of the country album charts, between March and June. The album would also spawn three number one singles.
We begin with the title cut, a tribute to working men and women, and one of three number one hits on the album. For me, an okay song, but certainly a favorite among many Alabama fans. It is worth noting that this single became Alabama’s seventeenth consecutive number one hit, breaking the previous mark of sixteen, held by Sonny James between between 1967 and 1971.
“Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” was also a number one hit in the fall of 1985. I have to say this has been one of my favorite Alabama songs, over the years. A great combination of melody, lyrics, and beat, and of course, as expected, stellar harmonies.
“There’s No Way” was actually the first single from the album, and like the other two, a number one hit, reaching the top in the spring of 1985. It has always been my opinion that this is one of, if not their best performance on a ballad. Simply put, a great song.
“Down On Longboat Key” is an alright song, but not anything particularly special. A little heavy on the pop arrangement, and average lyrics. On the other hand, hearing it makes me wish I was in Sarasota, a great city.
Next, we get a little swamp rock-influenced sound with “Louisiana Moon”. Wrapping side one (on the
vinyl copy), it’s a nice dose of country-rock that will have your feet going or hands clapping. Alabama was always at their best with up tempo music.
We begin side two with a song that could have easily been a fourth single, had they so chosen. However, they didn’t, so two years later, Conway Twitty made “I Want To Know You Before We Make Love” a top five hit. I actually like Alabama’s version, better. Conway’s was so slow and seemed to drag on, endlessly. Despite the slow tempo, here, Alabama’s version doesn’t have that same dragging feeling.
“Fireworks” really does nothing for me, and actually seems to drag on too long. Almost like they ran out of things to sing, but wanted to keep playing, anyway.
The arrangement for “(She Won’t Have A Thing To Do With) Nobody But Me” is the standard 1980’s style of country-pop, which actually works pretty well, however, I’m thinking that if they had given it an arrangement similar to “Louisiana Moon’s”, a very good track would have become a winner.
Back to the ballads, with “As Right Now”. Lyrically, it’s not bad, but overall, this track seems to be missing something, of which I just can’t quite place.
The album wraps with an anthem to the south. The song’s premise is that all parts of our great land are great in their own way, but, “If It Ain’t Dixie (It Won’t Do)”. As a southern resident, transplanted from the Midwest, I have to admit that it is hard to argue against their opinion. But back to the song, the song, itself, is an alright song, but nothing special. The best part is actually the little jam session (yes, you can jam on a slow ballad) at the end of the track.
Availability-wise, no trouble getting your hands onto this one. In addition to the numerous used vinyl copies on the market, along with a few cassettes, here and there, this album is still available on CD, as well as MP3 download.
Beginning with this review, I’m naming one each of the following for each album reviewed; standout track, hidden gem, and weakest track. For this disc, it’s a tough call between “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” and “There’s No Way” for the standout track, but I believe I will side with “There’s No Way”. It’s one of, if not the best ballad ever sung by Alabama. For the hidden gem, I will pick “I Want To Know You Before We Make Love”. Again, their version, much better than Conway’s, could have been a big hit, in my opinion. And weakest cut? “Fireworks”. Nothing there to grab or hold a listener’s attention, and it just dragged too long.
Overall, this is a bit of an uneven album. There is some outstanding tracks, but also some pretty average tracks, as well. The performances are stellar, as expected, but this collection, while not bad, is not the best album of Alabama’s career. I rate this one a 3 out of 5. Your opinion?
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