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Classic Album Review-Susan Raye “Cheating Game”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Your Classic Album Review, today, comes from Susan Raye, as we look back at her 1973 release, Cheating Game. Released by Capitol Records in May, it was Susan’s twelfth album release, peaking at twenty-two on the Country album bestseller lists. Two of the album’s tracks would also appear as singles, “The Cheating Game” and “When You Get Back From Nashville”.

The album’s opening track is the title track. As a single, “The Cheating Game” climbed the charts during the Spring of 1973, peaking at 18. A truly underrated piece, this ranks among Susan Raye’s best work. A strong composition, and what really makes the track, is the simply irresistible chorus, where Susan is dubbed in harmony with herself, making a highly effective result.

Of course, a part of pretty much any Susan Raye album, is a few songs from her mentor, Buck Owens. Among those seen on this album is Susan’s take on the Owens hit “The Kansas City Song”. Simply put, a very good track.

“Beginner’s Luck” is a catchy little track, sporting a quick-paced tempo, with a crisp, clear, not-too-heavy arrangement (something found on pretty much all of the tracks). This is one of those tracks that can get stuck in your head quite easily.

The tempo slows with “When You Get Back From Nashville”. The album’s second single, it failed to garner much attention, barely breaking the Country 60 in November, 1973. Interestingly enough, her next album’s title cut, “Paper Planes, Plastic Trains”, was actually released as a single in between this album’s two singles. While the song isn’t quite as strong as some of the album’s other tracks, it’s still a quality piece, and as a single, it’s rather surprising that it didn’t do any better, at least a Country 40 placing.

Side one ends with another up tempo piece, “When You Get To Heaven (I’ll Be There)”. A nice track for me; a nice, catchy melody and decent lyrics mixed with the typically crisp, clear, tones of Susan Raye.

I really like the opening track of the second side. “Today Will Be The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life” is a great piece of music, that has a great melody and clever lyrics, with a memorable hook. The song also really is a great vehicle for Susan’s vocals, meshing almost perfectly.

“Loving You” is yet another Buck Owens composition, a ballad that is perfectly suited for Susan Raye’s vocals. A strong enough cut that one has to wonder why it didn’t see light as a single.

“Comin’ Down With Love” is lite fare, not anything special or particularly memorable, but a track that isn’t one to make one want to move the stylus, either. It’s a bouncy rhythm with a likable melody.

One more slower song with “The Biggest Storm Of All”. A great intro featuring a strong dose of steel guitar. I really like this track, again, a great mix between the melody, lyrics, and performance.

To end the album, you are treated to a stellar performance by Susan Raye, of the Buck Owens classic “Love’s Gonna Love Here”. The arrangement is lighter than Buck’s freight-train original, but that lighter sound works better with Susan’s vocals, resulting in a great end to the album.

Unfortunately, this album is long out of print, and to my knowledge, has never been reissued on CD. Used copies can be found, the ones I saw were ranging between $15 and $25.

I give “The Cheating Game” the Standout Track, while the Hidden Gem is “Today Will Be The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life”. I would give “Comin’ Down With Love” The Weakest Track, but even at though it rates a little lower than the other tracks, it’s still not a bad track, with, as previously mentioned, a likable melody.

Overall, this is an album that is deserving of more acclaim than it’s received. It’s a steady, consistent piece that flows seamlessly from track to track, giving you just under twenty-five minutes of musical enjoyment. I rate it a 4 out of 5.

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