Classic Album Review-Connie Smith “Connie Smith”
In 1964, a young, Ohio housewife burst onto the Country Music scene with a monster hit. Connie Smith had been discovered by Bill Anderson, who brought her to Nashville and helped get her hooked up with RCA Victor, who wasted little time getting her into the studio and getting her on tape and vinyl. The initial result was her debut single, “Once A Day”, which would race to number one, becoming the biggest of her thirty-nine Country top forty hits. “Connie Smith” would be her debut album. Released in early 1965, it would also top the bestseller lists.
“The Other Side Of You” is the opening track of this disc; a quality cut that highlights, well, the vocal abilities of the then-newcomer, Connie Smith.
“Tiny Blue Transistor Radio” became a chart single as the B-side of “Then And Only Then”, peaking in the mid-twenties in early 1965. A good ballad that shows Connie could do more than just belt a song.
Of course, “Once A Day” is the song that started it all for Connie, becoming her first and biggest hit, spending eight weeks at number one in the fall of 1964. A country classic; in my book, one of the top records of the 1960’s, as well as one of many classics that have been penned by Bill Anderson.
Meanwhile, “The Hinges On The Door” is a fun, swinging tune that bounces right along for just under two and a half minutes. This one is a Hidden Gem contender.
While Connie had a big, booming voice, she could do well with softer ballads, as her work on “Don’t Forget (I Still Love You)” shows. A quality track.
Side one ends with “Darling Are You Ever Coming Home”, another ballad, though a little quicker paced than the previous track. Great vocal performance, here, perhaps the best one on the album. It’s a song that is made better by Connie’s performance.
Side two opens with Connie’s second hit, “Then And Only Then”. A good follow-up to “Once A Day”, this track would become a top five hit in the early part of 1965. Another stellar performance by Connie on this track. The steel guitar is featured prominently throughout the album, but may be at it’s peak, right here, as we hear some great playing.
A song titled “The Threshold”. Will it be a song about the threshold of a door, or about someone who’s about to be pushed over their threshold? Well, it turns out to be the former. Of course, once carried over, the marriage is obviously falling apart. Not a great song, but an interesting one that I have to give credit for some clever lyrics from Bill Anderson.
Things slow down a bit for “It’s Just My Luck”. A steady ballad that falls into that middle ground of not being great, but not awful, either. A “take-it-or-leave-it” kind of song, you might say.
“I’m Ashamed Of You” is a track that has a catchy refrain, with a bouncy tempo. A good track that features Connie’s voice double-tracked, something that I don’t know as if I’ve ever heard on any of her other recordings. It’s a technique, of course, that was used prominently on label-mate Skeeter Davis’ recordings. A rather effective result, here.
Bill Anderson wrote the majority of the songs on this album, including “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, which had been a big hit for Charlie Louvin the previous summer. Connie does a nice job on this track, which I think is comparable to Charlie’s version.
The final track on this disc is “Tell Another Lie”. A decent track. I like how the refrain was crafted, it adds some interest to a track that might otherwise fall into the bland category. A mid tempo song.
Anywhere from $5 to $25 is what I’ve seen this album listed at for a used vinyl version. However, you can also pick it up on a CD as part of a package with her follow-up album, “Cute’n Country”.
“Once A Day” is my pick for the Standout Track, while I’ll give the Hidden Gem to “The Hinges On The Door”. As for Weakest Track, I’ll go with “It’s Just My Luck”. An average track that lacks the clever lyrics of the other average track, “The Threshold”.
Overall, this is a decent album, what I would consider a good effort for the first album. While it was her highest charting album, I think there are some other ones that might be a bit better. But still, if you like Connie, you’ll like this one if you don’t have it, already. I will rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
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