Classic Album Review-Neal McCoy “No Doubt About It”
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music is always on the turntable, in the CD, or on the MP3. Today, it’s a look back at the breakthrough album from Neal McCoy. “No Doubt About It” was Neal’s third album, and was his breakthrough album, selling a million copies (certified platinum) and peaking at number thirteen on the album charts. Released on Atlantic Records, it would yield three top ten singles, including two that would peak at number one.
The title cut opens things up for this album. A ballad that became Neal’s first top ten and number one hit, topping the charts in March of 1994. I know, at the time of it’s release, some critics were a little less than kind to this track, I have to disagree with them, though, as I’ve always liked this song. Neal does not necessarily have a memorable, distinctive voice, but it’s a good voice, and the track is a melodic piece that the ears will enjoy. Groundbreaking? No. It’s just a nice song to hear on occasion.
“The City Put The Country Back In Me” was the album’s third and final single release, cracking the top five in the fall of 1994. Now to me, this is the weakest of the three singles. Yes, it has a beat, but I’ve always thought the melody to be average, at best, while the lyrics are nothing special. One highlight is the steel guitar part at mid-song. A song that simply does nothing for me.
As far as ballads go, it’s hard to argue against “Why Now” as being the best one on the disc. I like the melody and the lyrics are great. This song is an all-around winner. My only criticism is the end; it really doesn’t need about two minutes of instrumental, just wrap it up where the vocals end. The instrumental part adds nothing to the track.
“Heaven” is one of those tracks where, it’s not outstanding nor will it ever go down as a classic, but that being said, I do like it. Mid tempo, I think what attracts me is the melody. The lyrics are fine, comparing his wife to Heaven. But in this case, the melody makes the song.
“Wink”. It would be Neal’s second and last number one hit, spending most of the month of June, 1994, on top of the charts. Again, a song that wasn’t always high on the critics’ lists, but I like it. If you’re looking for a song that has deep meaning or provokes serious thought, keep looking. On the other hand, if you’re wanting a feel-good, fun, get-the-feet-moving song, then this one perfectly fits the bill. A rousing good time of a song!
Things slow down for “I Apologize”. Another pretty decent ballad that may not have been the type of song to win legions of new fans, but it wouldn’t drive anyone off, either.
“Mudslide” is bouncy, but bland. Not quite forgettable, but not anything to hold my attention.
Melodic is a good word for “Why Not Tonight”. Falling somewhere between mid and up tempo, again, this is a song made by the melody, particularly the refrain. The kind that will stick in your head. Good song.
I’m liking “Small Up And Simple Down”. It’s the most infectious song on the disc. And I like the lyrical message, too. Simple life, baby! That’s where it’s at!
The album’s final cut, “Something Moving In Me” comes from the prolific pens of Roury Bourke and Mike Reid. Bourke’s catalog goes well back into the 1970′s, while Reid’s songs were a fixture on the Country charts during the 1980′s, before he scored a couple of hits as a singer (“Old Folks” w/Ronnie Milsap and “Walk On Faith”). And this all came after his days of suiting up and lining up on the defensive line of the Cincinnati Bengals. As for this song. It wouldn’t land near the top of either’s list of great music, but that said, it’s not an awful song. A little plain, despite some decent lyrics. What actually may hurt this track as much as anything, is the production or arrangement is a little slicker than it needs to be.
This album is still on the market, available both as a CD and an MP3 download. Used copies are numerous, as well, most going pretty inexpensively.
My Standout Track for this disc is “No Doubt About It”. As for the Hidden Gem, I will have to go with “Why Now”. Weakest Track? I would go with “Mudslide”.
Overall, an album that is not a classic, not a special unforgettable timeless piece of music, but it’s a decent album. One that’s worth an occasional listen. As a vocalist, Neal is a good one, though not distinctive; he doesn’t have that “stand out” quality that an Elvis, George Jones, or Lefty Frizzell would possess. But he can handle most songs, pretty well. For this album, I have to go 3.5 out of 5.
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