Classic Album Review-Porter Wagoner And Dolly Parton “Just The Two Of Us”
Here’s an album from arguably country music’s greatest duet, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton. Released on RCA Victor, “Just The Two Of Us” was their second album, together, entering the market in September, 1968; featuring two hit singles, and peaking at number five on the country album charts, while also making a brief appearance on the pop album charts.
The opening track, “Closer By The Hour”, is a decent, if not spectacular ballad, that highlights the vocal talents of both Porter and Dolly. It could be argued that of all of the duets in country music history, none had the perfect voice melding that Porter And Dolly did. It’s as if their voices were specifically designed to sing together.
“I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew” is a typical 1960’s-era “message” song, touching on the day’s social issues. A minor chart single for Tom T. Hall, Porter and Dolly give a great performance, here.
Speaking of minor chart singles, “Jeannie’s Afraid Of The Dark”, the next track, was just that, just missing the country top forty, as the flip side of “We’ll Get Ahead Someday”. For me, the song is way too morbid. I really just don’t get into songs about dying kids. However, years ago, hosting a classic country music show, I used to get a lot of requests for this song.
“Holding On To Nothin’” was their second single, together, climbing into the top ten during the summer of 1968. Great song, worthy of hit status, and easily one of the standout tracks of this album.
“Slip Away Today” covers a topic that has been a part of country music for at least sixty years, and peaked as a subject matter during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Good up tempo melody, this track delivers as one of the better ones on the disc.
That adulterous subject matter continues with “The Dark End Of The Street” on the final track of side one. Not as good as the previous track, to me, this song is a bit bland. However, many might disagree, as this song did make an appearance on the country top forty with comedian Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann, and was a top ten R & B hit for James Carr.
Switching to side two, things open with the title track, “Just The Two Of Us”. A good track that I will rate as one of the album’s best. A mid tempo number, the mid and upper tempo songs are the ones that Porter and Dolly seem to really excel at, in my opinion. Some of their best vocal work is this track.
I like “Afraid To Love Again”. Dolly excels, especially, on this track.
“We’ll Get Ahead Someday” is the album’s other top ten single. Good song, though not quite as good as “Holding On The Nothin’”.
I mentioned that Porter and Dolly seemed to really excel at the mid to upper tempo songs, there can be found, though, some good ballad work, throughout their career, and “Somewhere Between” is an excellent example. I won’t quite say “hidden gem”, but it’s a good track. I think you will like it.
“The Party” is another song about dead kids. Thankfully, country music has gotten away from it’s morbid roots. In a nutshell, mom & dad leave kids with baby sitter, go to a party, dad gets bad feeling, they rush home to a burning house & two kids who did not survive. But what about the baby sitter? We’ll never know. A very forgettable track, here.
Luckily, they redeem themselves quite nicely with the album’s final track, “I Can”. One of the best songs on the album. It’s one of those songs that you actually are surprised when it ends, you’re wanting more as it fades. A bouncy tune, with probably the best lyrics on the disc.
To the best of my knowledge, this album has yet to see the light of day on CD. I was also a bit surprised, given how well this album did upon it’s release, to see only a few used copies for sale.
In summary, side two is a definite step up from side one, on this album. There are some really good songs, but also some bad songs, and the rest, pretty average. However, the performances are excellent, as again, I’m not sure any duet in country music can lay claim to a better vocal blend than Porter and Dolly. Their harmonies are so good that they even make the bad songs somewhat listenable. Because of that, I will give the disc a 3 out of 5. What do you think?
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AND HOW ABOUT PORTER?