Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today’s Single Of The Day is one of the true classics of Country music and one of the most memorable hits of the decade of the 1970′s. You nearly would have had to have been on a deserted island in 1977, to have not heard Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”. The bluesy ballad became one of the biggest hits of the year, gaining wide popularity over multiple genres.
Released by United Artists in June, the record made it’s debut on the Country 40 in mid-July, just a few weeks after her previous hit, “I’ll Do It All Over Again” had fallen out of the top ten. By the end of August, it was number one on the Country charts (it would spend four weeks, total, there), and quickly climbing the Pop and Adult Contemporary charts, where she would peak at two and four, respectively.
In addition, the single sold like crazy, topping the million mark in sales, earning Crystal a Gold record.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where today’s Single Of The Day is a 1970′s cover of one of the most iconic records ever made. ”Crazy”, the Willie Nelson composed song that Patsy Cline turned into an iconic part of country music, a record that surely has to rank as one of the ten greatest, ever. When a song enjoys that high of a status, it’s always at least slightly risky for someone to later, do a cover.
In late 1976, though, Linda Ronstadt did just that. Linda was enjoying steady success on both the country and the pop charts, often times releasing a single with a country sound on one side and a pop/rock sound on the flip. This case wasn’t different, as one side, “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me”, was pitched to Top 40 and Adult Contemporary stations, while “Crazy” was worked at country radio by Asylum Records. In this case, “Crazy” turned out to be the more successful side, as it’s flip failed to crack the Top 40, while peaking just inside the AC top 30. ”Crazy”, on the other hand, caught the attention of country radio and it’s listeners, and became her fourth top ten hit, as it peaked at six in early 1977.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today, we look back at one of the many hits of Willie Nelson, a single that was the second Lefty Frizzell hit that Willie would also score with.
The story of Willie Nelson is well known; his incredible songwriting talents, but also his years of struggle to become a singing star, that finally culminated with his breakthrough Red-Headed Stranger album, featuring his first number one single, “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”. One year later, Willie was back on top, this time with a remake of the Lefty Frizzell classic “If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time”. Fast forward another two years, to August, 1977, and once again, Willie calls on a Lefty classic, this time “I Love You A Thousand Ways”. Taken from his Lefty Frizzell tribute album, To Lefty From Willie, the song, ironically, was Lefty’s second chart single, and second number one hit, as well as the flip side to his first of each, “If You’ve Got The Money, I’ve Got The Time”.
Willie’s version made it’s debut in August, climbing the charts to as high as nine, by early Fall. Performed in that standard Nelson style of that era, where his guitar is nearly as prominent as his voice. It was an amazing sound, so different than anything else on the radio. And if you listen close, you can tell the Frizzell influence on Willie, on this track.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 machine. Today’s Classic Album Review is a 1977 Columbia release from hall of famer Marty Robbins. Coming off his most successful album and hit in several years with “El Paso City”, Marty was looking to keep the roll going with the release in February of Adios Amigo. And successful it was, as the album peaked at five, becoming the last of fifteen top ten albums for Marty, while containing two top ten singles.
The album kicks off with one of the top ten hits, which also happens to be the title cut, as well. ”Adios Amigo” climbed as high as four, during the early Spring of 1977. A mix of Latin sounds and country-pop, it’s the kind of song that Marty really excelled at (among many other styles). Great track.
The first time I heard Bobby Darin’s hit version of “18 Yellow Roses” from 1963, I could have sworn he was trying to impersonate Marty Robbins, the singing style was so similar. Fast forward to 1977, and we finally get a Marty Robbins version, which turns out to be a good, solid performance.
“Falling Out Of Love” is an exceptional ballad. Nothing fancy, just good, solid material, and of course, an exceptional voice behind the mic. A Hidden Gem contender.
Next, it’s Marty’s cover of the Lynn Anderson hit “I’ve Never Loved Anyone More”. A nice performance of a good song; whereas Lynn’s version is a little softer and airier, Marty’s is slightly more metropolitan.
Side one ends with yet another ballad, “Helen”. The medium-slow tempo track has a sound and feel that harkens back to Marty’s early 1970′s work, before he ended his first Columbia tenure to join Decca/MCA. Strong lyrical work, here, this is a Hidden Gem contender.
Side two opens with Marty’s other top ten success from the album, “I Don’t Why (I Just Do)”, a cover of the 1931 Wayne King pop hit (also a 1961 pop hit for Linda Scott). Sneaking into the top 10, during the Summer of 1977, Marty just seemingly flows without much effort throughout.
“My Happiness” is another pop standard that’s seen several hit versions, most notably Connie Francis’ 1959 classic, and again, nothing fancy, just a nice flowing version that suits Marty’s vocals, perfectly.
One more pop standard cover is “My Blue Heaven”. It’s estimated that the 1928 Gene Austin version sold over five million copies, making it one of the biggest selling pre-rock era singles. Marty’s tempo is slightly quicker than that original (but not as fast as the Fats Domino hit), and again, just a nice little piece that’s quite enjoyable to listen to.
One more definite Hidden Gem contender is “Inspiration For A Song”. Simply a great ballad, featuring the total package; melody, performance, and lyrics.
The album wraps with Marty’s take on the Wynn Stewart hit, “After The Storm”. I love Wynn’s version, but Marty does a fine job, giving a more than adequate performance.
No longer on the market, used copies are numerous, especially in vinyl and 8-track. The album was also released on cassette. The prices I saw were generally less than $10.
“Adios Amigo” gets my Standout Track nod, while “Inspiration For A Song” gets the Hidden Gem. I really didn’t dislike any of the music, here.
Overall, this is a fine piece of work by the late Marty Robbins. Often, when an album features mostly ballads, the danger of monotony can arise and will at times. Not here, though. The songs are different enough to keep the whole body of work more than interesting and keeps the listener well engaged. I go for a 5 out of 5, here.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1977, Adios Amigo, classic country, Columbia Records, Connie Francis, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Gene Austin, I Don't Know Whe (I Just Do), Marty Robbins, Wayne King, Wynn Stewart
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable, in the CD, or in the MP3 players. Today’s Classic Album Review is a 1977 GRT release from a then-relatively unknown Johnny Lee. H-e-e-ere’s Johnny was his second album release. While the album failed to chart, it did contain his first Country 40 and Country 20 hits.
The album opens with a slow ballad, “Dear Alice”. Not spectacular, but not bad. One thing interesting to note, though, is how different the younger Johnny Lee sounds, when compared to “Lookin’ For Love” and later. The style is still developing, here.
“Red Sails In The Sunset” was a hit, three times in 1935, thanks to Bing Crosby, Guy Lombardo, and Mantovani. A song that has been revived numerous times, over the years, including Top 40 pop versions by Nat King Cole, The Platters, and Fats Domino. Johnny Lee’s version would become his first Country 40 single, peaking at twenty-two in the Fall of 1976. The track has a cool 1950′s-style arrangement, but still with enough Country to it to keep the twangy part of the ear, satisfied. A bouncy, likable track with the beat and prominent sax work.
Another cover, here, is the Nat King Cole hit “Ramblin’ Rose”. Slightly quicker than the original, it’s not a bad cover, at all.
However, the best cover on the album, may well be Johnny Lee’s take on the Fats Domino classic “Blueberry Hill”. Quicker than the original, Johnny gives an exceptional performance, here, as the song seems to glide effortlessly, from start to finish.
While Johnny Lee’s vocal work on the Elton John classic “Your Song” is decent, there’s a feeling of not quite being a fit, here. You want to like the track, but there’s just not enough there to make you do so. In fairness, “Your Song” is a track that I’ve never heard anyone really perform effectively, outside of Elton John, himself.
Side one ends with a rollicking, rocking track, “Ruby Louise”. It sounds just like something Billy Crash Craddock would have done, both in song styling and arrangement. A nice departure to end the first side; a true Country rocker.
Side two opens with Johnny Lee’s first Country 20 single, 1977′s “Country Party”. A reworking of the 1972 Rick Nelson hit, “Garden Party”, the single peaked at fifteen, during the Summer. Not bad, but I think with the lyrics being such as about nostalgia (which comes through on this version, as well), it would have been more effective in the hands of a veteran act. Also, the lyrics feel forced, in spots. Nothing to complain about, performance-wise, though.
“Frisco” is a decent ballad about, not the long-departed rail line of the same name, but rather of someone who’s tried to make it in the big city of San Francisco, but hasn’t, and is going home.
One of the album’s best tracks is “Saturday’s Heroes”. Johnny Lee really excels, here.
One more time, they dip into the 1950′s-style Rock ‘n Roll sound, utilized on the track, “This Time”. A good performance, here, and the song, itself, is a fine composition.
As good as most of the tracks have been on this disc, had they all been of the caliber of “Victims Of The Pretty Things In Life”, then we’d be talking about a true classic; a killer of an album. Pure country, with a beat that is reminiscent of the Ray Price shuffle, mixed with an outstanding performance.
The album wraps with an odd juxtaposition on “Long Black Veil”. Lyrically, a rather morbid, haunting track (especially in the hands of Lefty Frizzell), mixed with an almost dance-like beat. And it actually works, pretty well.
Long out of print, this is an album that I did not find too many used copies of. Of the ones I did find, the price range was $5 to $25. This album was released on vinyl and 8-track, but I’m unsure of cassette. Most, if not all, of these tracks can be found on other CD collections.
My pick for Standout Track is “Red Sails In The Sunset”. Cool sound I really like. I’m going with “Victims Of The Pretty Things In Life” for my Hidden Gem. Weakest Track goes to “Your Song”.
Overall, a pretty good effort. Johnny Lee is still finding his style, here, yet one can hear traces of what was to become in the next decade. The biggest change that would come would be a more mature tone in the voice. Still, the tracks are worthy listens, and the album has very little of what I’d consider “filler” material. I rate it a 3 out of 5.