Classic Album Review-Statler Brothers “Maple Street Memories”
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable, in the CD, or on the MP3. Today, it’s a look back at one of the Statler Brothers’ later works. Though we didn’t know it at the time, it turned out that Maple Street Memories was the beginning of the end for the group as hit makers. The July, 1987 Mercury release became their fourteenth and final top ten album. Four singles would be released, with the varying results of a top ten, top twenty, and a single that missed the top forty, entirely. That particular single, the title cut, is one that has always perplexed me, in that it was a decent song, and at the radio station in which I was employed at the time of it’s release, it was a highly requested song; in fact, even two or three years following it’s release, we’d still get requests. Yet nationally, the song “Maple Street Memories” basically stiffed, peaking at forty-two. Either our market was unique in it’s like of this song or too many other stations simply cast it aside in favor of the newer, younger acts that were coming onto the scene, or Mercury just didn’t give it much of a promotional push. I really don’t know why this record that should have done better, didn’t.
Let’s take a look at the disc, which opens with the track “Our Street/Tell Me Why”. The Statlers were always big on nostalgia, and such it is with this track, which starts with a few minutes of each member telling a story of the past from what we assume is Maple Street. Tales of heartbreak, Halloween, and porch sitting. They also include a couple of girls’ names from their previous hit singles, “The Official Historian On Shirley Jean Burrell” and “Susan When She Tried”. After the tales, they break into a chorus (which includes a couple of female voices) of “Tell Me Why” (not the same song made famous by The Belmonts). It’s an interesting and unique format that they experimented with, here, and it works pretty well, though it gets a little long. Not necessarily a track that I want to hear that often.
I mentioned the title cut and my surprise at it’s lack of success. It’s a song that is perfect Statler Brothers with it’s look back at a young man’s childhood times with the girl next door, whom he does not ultimately wind up with. While not a song that I would rank among their all-time best, again, it’s a song that deserved at least a top thirty placing, if not higher. This was the album’s second single.
“Deja Vu” is a mid tempo track that is among the slickest tracks they’ve ever produced. Yet a very interesting and likable melody make it worth listening.
Side one contains only four tracks, and wraps with what became the album’s final single, “Am I Crazy?”. Again, one of the more slicker productions in the Statler’s catalog, this ballad is one of their more ordinary tracks. Not bad, not great, just there. Debuting in the Summer of 1988, it peaked at twenty-seven.
Side two opens with the album’s third single, “The Best I Know How”. Peaking at fifteen in the Spring of 1988, again, a track that is alright, but not one that I would rank highly on their list of hits. Rather ordinary.
The best of the singles was also the album’s only top ten hit, the bubbly “I’ll Be The One”. The album’s first single, it climbed the charts during the late Summer of 1987. Bouncy and lite, it’s an enjoyable piece of music that reminds us of the sounds of their 1970’s works. A likable tune.
“Beyond Romance” is a good ballad that really highlights how well the voices of Don Reid and Jimmy Fortune work together. The song, itself co-written by Jimmy Fortune, is one of the album’s better compositions. Hidden Gem contender.
Another track that I think is good is the lively “I Lost My Heart To You”. Again, utilizing an arrangement that harkens back to their 1970’s work, this track has a very good melody and some good lyrics to match. Hidden Gem contender.
Always good to hear The Statler Brothers do Gospel, and they do not disappoint, here, with a lively and spirited rendition of Harold and Don Reid written “Jesus Showed Me So”. A good end for this album.
While currently out of print, this album has seen life on CD, vinyl, and cassette, and I found used copies in all three formats. Prices mainly in the $10 and under range.
I give the Standout Track to “I’ll Be The One”. As for the Hidden Gem, there are two good possibilities; I choose “I Lost My Heart To You”. As for the Weakest Track, I think I have to pick “Am I Crazy?”. Not bad, just there and rather bland.
Overall, this album is an uneven work. In spots, it feels as if the magic is gone, yet, they sound inspired and as good as ever in other spots. I think you could say that it’s an okay album that could have been much better with a little different song selection. Unfortunately for the group, as I mentioned at the beginning, it was the beginning of the end. Their last top ten album, and single-wise, after this disc, only one more top ten remained, 1989’s “More Than A Name On A Wall”. As for this album, I rate it a 3 out of 5.
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