Classic Album Review-Dolly Parton “Here You Come Again”
A new direction. That’s the best way to describe today’s classic album from Dolly Parton. “Here You Come Again” was a new musical direction, heading into a more polished, pop-infused sound that, while it turned off some of her fans, at the same time it would ultimately vastly expand her fan base, increasing her record sales, and eventually leading her into other ventures such as movies and television. “Here You Come Again” was Dolly’s second album, post-Porter Wagoner. Dolly had produced her previous release, “New Harvest, First Gathering”, but turned to producer Gary Klein for this album. While initial reviews of the album were mixed, the sales showed fans didn’t really care what critics thought, as the album topped the country charts, becoming her first million-seller. Two singles also topped the country charts, and enjoyed pop success, as well.
December, 1977. You couldn’t have the radio on and not hear Dolly singing “Here You Come Again”. It was a huge hit, spending a month on top of the country music charts, while climbing into the pop top ten. The melody is catchy, if not infectious, and despite the slickness of the arrangement, I’d still rate it as one of Dolly’s best hits.
“Baby Come Out Tonight” is rather bland, in my opinion. Not really anything there that held my attention.
The other single from the album? “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right”, also a number one hit. One of Dolly’s better vocal performances, the song, itself, is a decent ballad.
“Me And Little Andy” is a favorite among many of Dolly’s fans. But for me, I just don’t care for songs about dead kids. That being said, this song also seems a bit out of place on this album, as it is more along the lines of the music of Dolly’s earlier albums, and just doesn’t fit with the slick, pop sounds of this disc.
Side one wraps with “Lovin’ You”, a catchy, bouncy track. The song, itself, was Bobby Darin’s last top forty pop hit in 1967. Dolly gives a very good performance that rivals the Darin version, though I admit that I do like Bobby’s recording a little more.
Side two opens with “The Cowgirl And The Dandy”. Written by Bobby Goldsboro, the song would find success as a top ten hit for Brenda Lee in 1980. On Dolly’s version, her vocals are fine, but the song loses something in the overproduction.
As the flip side of the “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” single, “Two Doors Down” did enjoy some popularity, even reaching the pop top twenty, though it was actually the version by Zella Lehr that became a country top ten hit, in fact, Zella’s only top ten hit. Dolly’s vocals are stellar on this song, but I like the arrangement on the Zella Lehr version, better. If that same arrangement had been used with Dolly’s version, it could have been a potential monster hit.
Luckily we are spared the slick production of the rest of the album on “God’s Coloring Book”. It’s a simple and beautiful track, that relies on Dolly’s voice and little else to carry it. And carry it she does. One of the album’s highlights.
As a song, “As Soon As I Touched Him” is good, but I think would have been better in the style of Dolly’s earlier works, where the sound was earthier, more rootsy, much more country. The pop arrangement overpowers the song, while Dolly almost sounds like she’s trying to outsing the arrangement. Lots of unfilled potential on this track.
Music fans in my age range will remember “Sweet Music Man” at the hands of Kenny Rogers, while twenty- and thirtysomethings will likely be more familiar with Reba McEntire’s version of a few years ago. I actually like Dolly’s version, because, while it has that polished sound, it still comes off as a more intimate track, similar to Reba’s, than the Kenny Rogers version.
This album has been released on CD, though if you want a copy, it looks like you will shell out major bucks, as new copies are going for well over $100. On the other hand, you can pick up a good, used vinyl copy for less than $10. With that in mind, do what I did, take the vinyl copy and burn it to a CD.
The Standout Track for this album has to be one of the hits, which in this case, I will opt for “Here You Come Again”, as it was her first big crossover hit. Hidden Gem will go to “God’s Coloring Book”, while the Weakest Track, “Baby Come Out Tonight”, due to it’s overall blandness.
There was quite a buzz, when this album was released, thirty-three years ago. Some lamented the slick, polished pop sound of the disc (something not previously heard from Dolly) and said the results were not in the same league as her previous work, while others lauded it as a bold move to further expand her career. In a sense, both camps were correct. I think her earlier works, in general, are stronger, yet had she not expanded her musical horizons, I’m not sure she would have become the icon that she is. Has this album aged well? Parts of it, such as the two hit singles and “God’s Coloring Book” have, while the other tracks haven’t, sounding dated in their arrangement. Overall, I think a 3 out of 5 is a fair rating.
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