Classic Album Review-Loretta Lynn “You Ain’t Woman Enough”
Here’s how country music’s female vocalist roster looked in 1966. Of course, Patsy Cline had been gone three years, but was still selling albums. Kitty Wells was starting to see her career decline, as her top ten days ended the year prior. Skeeter Davis was there, but the pop sound in her music of the time, surely hurt her chart positioning. Connie Smith, Dottie West, and Norma Jean were regulars in or near the top ten, while it would be another year before we were introduced to Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Lynn Anderson. By 1966, country music was in need of a new female superstar, and in 1966, it got one in Loretta Lynn. Loretta had been a regular in or near the top ten, since 1962, but 1966 was the year that her career really accelerated into high gear, thanks to the hit “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, which just missed number one in the summer of ’66. In addition, the ensuing Decca album, “You Ain’t Woman Enough”, became one of the top albums of the year, giving Loretta her first number one album, as well as her first appearance on the pop album charts, as well. It’s today’s Classic Album Review.
There is, of course, the title cut, a big hit from the summer of ’66, just missing the number one position.
“You Ain’t Woman Enough” is a country classic and one of Loretta’s signature songs.
Like most albums of that era, there is an ample supply of covers (songs that were hits by other artists), and the next selection is one, “Put It Off Until Tomorrow”, a top ten hit for then-labelmate Bill Phillips. It’s worth noting, as well, that it was co-written by a then unknown Dolly Parton. As covers go, Loretta’s version is quite acceptable. One could argue that her version was single-worthy, had there not already been a single release of the song.
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”, yes, the Nancy Sinatra song, is next up. Surprisingly, this cut is not the train wreck one might expect. Loretta actually handles it quite well and you may well find yourself liking her version. While Sinatra’s version features a heavy dose of brass, on Loretta’s version, the brass is replaced by a guitar. It’s probably the closest sound to pop music you’ll ever hear from her.
“God Gave Me A Heart To Forgive” is standard country fare of the day. Nothing particularly special, here. A medium-slow ballad that’s a bit on the bland side, but listenable.
“Keep The Change” is a rather clever wordplay. Her man needed a change, which turns out to be another woman, and now she’s telling him to “keep the change”. It’s the kind of song that one would expect from Loretta, particularly during that era.
To wrap up side 1, Loretta returns to the covers, this time tackling a Wilburn Brothers hit, “Someone Before Me”. Though I personally prefer their version, Loretta does more than a capable performance of this track, using harmonies to simulate the Wilburn version as much as possible.
For those keeping score, we now turn to side 2, where things begin with a song that Loretta penned, titled “The Darkest Day”. As is well known, one of Loretta’s heroes was the late Ernest Tubb, and this song has a strong Troubadour feel to it, including the electric guitar sound that was prevalent on most of Tubb’s recordings. In fact, during the guitar solo, Loretta even does an Ernest and announces the guitar player’s name, which in this case was Grady Martin. As for the recording itself, a good song, that I’m sure was especially well-received by Loretta’s fans. This is definitely one of the standout cuts on this album.
The only cut on this collection that really misses the mark, is a cover of the Harden Trio’s “Tippy Toeing”. The arrangement is a bit stripped, compared to the Harden version, and the song, to me, works better with a male-female vocal combination. While the Harden version has more excitement to it, Loretta’s version comes out vapid.
On the other hand, one could argue that her version of “Talkin’ To The Wall” is as good as Warner Mack’s hit version, or for that matter, the Lynn Anderson hit version of 8 years later. This is one of those songs that I’ve always liked, and Loretta scores big with her version. If you’ve never heard it, you will like this cut.
“A Man I Hardly Know” is another Loretta Lynn composition. Another cut on the disc that deserves some attention. Great writing (the lyrics might have been considered a bit edgy in 1966), and a great vocal performance makes this song of a woman seeking a quick fix for her loneliness, one of the highlights of the album. A single-worthy cut, it was eventually released on a single, as the B-side of “If You’re Not Gone Too Long”.
The album wraps with a couple of covers, including another Warner Mack cut, “Is It Wrong (For Loving You)” and another Wilburn Brothers track, “It’s Another World”. “Is It Wrong” is alright, but nothing particularly special, while “It’s Another World” actually comes off pretty well. In this case, Loretta and her producer (Owen Bradley), do not try to emulate the hit version, but rather put their own take on it, and it comes off pretty well, using a bit of a different arrangement, and slightly faster tempo, but still having Loretta sing melody and harmony, as on “Someone Before Me”.
There is good news, concerning this album’s availability; it’s still on the market, both as a CD and MP3 download; very inexpensive, as well. Or, if you just have to have an original vinyl version, there’s plenty of those, as well.
Despite a couple of tracks that fail to impress, overall it’s a very good album of which I rate a 4.5 out of 5. That’s my opinion, what is yours? Do you have this album, and if so, what do you think? I would love to hear your opinion.
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