Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review takes you back to November, 1982, for the Epic Records release from Merle Haggard, Going Where The Lonely Go. The album, like the vast majority of his releases, was a rousing success, with two number one singles, while peaking at three on the album charts.
The title cut opens things, here. A number one hit in early 1983, “Going Where The Lonely Go” is one of Merle’s strongest hits of the decade, if not of all time. This is a case where Merle Haggard the writer, almost outdoes Merle Haggard the singer. The song is that strong. And of course, Merle’s performance is nothing short of classic. You don’t just listen to this one, you feel it.
“Why Am I Drinkin’ is a good piece of country music. Western swing-influenced with it’s fiddle work and lively beat, this is a solid composition that I really like.
Not only is “Why Am I Drinkin’ a Hidden Gem contender, so is “If I Left It Up To You”. Again, a track that I really like.
“I Won’t Give Up My Train” is nearly as strong as the previous two. Train songs are a staple in country music; but usually deal with wrecks or hobos. This one’s different; an engineer who deeply loves his woman, but he loves his train even more.
Side one ends with the Leona Williams written “Someday You’re Gonna Need Your Friends Again”. It features a little slicker production than what is usually heard on a Merle Haggard track, but despite that, this medium-up track is still pure Haggard in style.
Speaking of songwriting, Merle wrote five of the tracks, and co-wrote the sixth, with Little Jimmy Dickens. That song, “Shopping For Dresses”, opens side two. A solid effort on a decent track.
The album’s other single, “You Take Me For Granted”, is arguably as good as the first single. Hitting number one in late Spring, 1983, it’s also a strong composition that also features a standout performance by Merle Haggard.
Merle Haggard singing a song written by Willie Nelson is almost always a winning combination. “Half A Man” is a song from Willie’s early days, a 1963 top 25 single for Willie. Something about the way Merle Haggard sings this, is almost haunting. Definitely one of the album’s many highlights. Yet another Hidden Gem contender.
“For All I Know” is a track that sounds exactly like Merle’s 1970’s Capitol work. The arrangement, the composition, even the singing. Beyond that, the composition is strong, and of course, Merle’s singing is awesome. Merle’s voice was amazingly consistent over his hit-making years, and even today, shows much less wear than most others in his age range. This is a track that should also get some Hidden Gem love.
Merle covers the Jimmie Davis classic, “Nobody’s Darling But Mine” for the album’s final track. Sometimes, even in the 1980’s, 1930’s/40’s-era songs didn’t always translate well to a more contemporary sound, but there’s no problem with that, here. Merle’s take is impeccable, here, and the song sounds just as fresh in 1983, as it did when Jimmie Davis first put it to 78 rpm in 1935.
Used copies of this album are not too difficult to find. I found both used vinyl and cassette copies in the $3 to $20 range. The album is still available, offered on CD as a “two-fer”, with Big City, or as a solo album, via MP3 download.
Wow, how do you pick a Standout Track, here? Both singles are exceptional, but to pick one, I’ll go with “Going Where The Lonely Go”, but only narrowly. Similar story with the Hidden Gem. There are several worthy tracks, here, but in the end, I’ll go with “If I Left It Up To You”. Nothing weak, here.
Overall, a standout album. With someone who’s released as many albums as Merle Haggard has, it’s difficult to pick the best one, but one can certainly find 10 or so that are a little better than the rest. This album would merit very strong consideration to be in that short list. It’s arguably one of that decade’s classic works, a 5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1982, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Epic Records, Going Where The Lonely Go, Leona Williams, Little Jimmy Dickens, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, You Take Me For Granted
Greetings from Asheville, where we’ve got the good music lined up for you, every Thursday afternoon on the Ultimate Twang Radio Show. Today’s Single Of The Day is a 1982 hit for Don Williams. Don was in the midst of a string of twenty-nine straight top ten singles, in fact, this was top ten single twenty-four. “Mistakes” was his latest MCA single, debuting in September of that year. The single would climb up the charts and eventually peak at three, by the time the year was out. While Don’s music had always had a smooth and mellow feel to it (even the up tempo tracks), this single was the first to move to a more pop sound. It wasn’t a big change, but listen closely, and you can hear it. Still, overall, a good Don Williams effort; good quality song.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Bob Wills "Historic Edition" is a 1982 release, featuring 10 tracks.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1982, Bob Wills, Cherokee Maiden, classic country, Columbia Records, Cotton Eyed Joe, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Cowboy Stomp, Dusty Skies, Historic Edition, I Ain't Got Nobody, Lyla Lou, My Life's Been A Pleasure, Okeh Records, Right Or Wrong, Vocalion Records
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today, it’s a look back at some vintage Oak Ridge Boys. The Oak Ridge Boys have been around since the 1940’s, known originally as The Oak Ridge Quartet, focusing on Gospel music and enjoying a high level of success in that genre, through the 1970’s. However, as they began experimenting, more, with their sound and style, their gospel audience started shrinking, and eventually, the decision was made to go full-time into country music. That decision paid off, beginning with their release, Ya’ll Come Back Saloon. Today’s Classic Album Review looks back at the Oak Ridge Boys’ sixth MCA Records release, 1982’s Bobbie Sue. The album became their second number one album, along with becoming their second album to achieve at least Gold status; 1981’s Fancy Free was the first. Bobbie Sue would spend three weeks on top of the Country album charts, while peaking at twenty on the Pop album charts. Three singles were a part of the album, two would hit number one.
The album opens with the title cut, The Oak Ridge Boys’ other Pop success, as it followed “Elvira” into the Pop top 20, peaking at twelve. A blend of country and 1950’s-style rock ‘n roll, “Bobbie Sue” would become their sixth number one single.
“I Wish You Were Here (Oh My Darlin’)” is a standard country-pop ballad of the era, but that’s also the style in which the Oak Ridge Boys did some of the best work. I really loved the piano work on the second verse, an echo-y effect that sounds really cool through headphones. The rest of the track is fine, too.
A bouncy track, with more of a country and 1980’s-style rock mix, “Doctor’s Orders” isn’t the album’s best track, but it is a rather catchy, infectious melody, mixed with some mildly clever lyrical content.
On the other hand, “Old Kentucky Song” is one of the best tracks on the album, and it is a definite Hidden Gem contender. The mid-tempo piece has a sound more along the lines of the Oak Ridge Boys’ 1970’s ABC work. This is a very strong track, here.
Side one ends with another country-1950’s-style rock ‘n roll mix in “So Fine”. A 1959 pop/R & B hit for The Fiestas, this one struggled as the album’s second single, peaking at only twenty-two. I liked the track, but apparently much more so than the majority of country music listeners of that era.
Side two opens with the album’s third track and second number one single, “I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (And Left My Heart Alone)”. Surely one of the longest titles to ever top the charts, this is one of those tracks, where as soon as you hear the melody hook, it’s burned into your brain and will play over and over and over again. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering it is a strong composition and possessor of a great sound from the Oak Ridge Boys and their musicians.
“Back In Your Arms Again” is another track that sounds like it could have been lifted from one of those 1970’s-era albums, as well. This is another high quality piece of music, though I admit, it took 2 or 3 listens before it really hooked me.
Those at least 45 years old, are likely familiar with the 1970 pop/rock hit from The Band, “Up On Cripple Creek”. Here, the Oak Ridge Boys give a slicker, more glitzy version, which actually comes off pretty well, despite the slickness. I admit, though, that the song does lose a little something with the slicker sound, losing a little grittiness found in the original. Plus, you have to like any track that includes a reference to revered leader of The City Slickers, Spike Jones.
Richard Sterban gets the lead vocals for most of the ballad “Until You”. A nice track, but not anything that stands out above the pack.
The album does have a strong end, though, as the Oak Ridge Boys return to their Gospel roots with “Would They Love Him Down In Shreveport”. Strong lyrics wondering about what people would think of Jesus in a modern world, basically doing the same things and talking to the same kinds of people he did during his first time on Earth.
This album was originally issued on vinyl, 8-track, and cassette. Used copies are plentiful, as I found all three formats (along with a couple of used CD’s) in the $3 to $15 price range. The album is still currently available in both the CD and MP3 formats, as well.
My pick for the Standout Track is “I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (And Left My Heart Alone)”, while I give the Hidden Gem to “Old Kentucky Song”. I really don’t think there is a Weakest Track, here, though “Until You” did the least for me, out of the ten total tracks.
Overall, this is a good album that has a nice variety of music. Sure, there’s that 1980’s smooth, slick Country-pop style, but in the case of The Oak Ridge Boys, that’s not really a bad thing, because that’s the style that gave us some of their best work. No really weak songs, here, either. It’s a pleasant listening experience from start to end, that I rate a 4 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1982, ABC Records, Bobbie Sue, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (And Left My Heart Alone), MCA Records, Oak Ridge Boys, So Fine, Up On Cripple Creek
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music flows, all the time. Today’s Classic Album Review is a look back at a 1982 release from Judy Kay “Juice” Newton. Quiet Lies was her seventh album release, fifth for Capitol. Released in May, it became the second of two Juice Newton albums to attain Gold status, selling just under a million copies. The album climbed as high as seven on the Country bestseller lists, while hitting a high of twenty on the Pop side. This would be the last of her albums to break into the top ten. As for singles, three came from the album; “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me”, “Break It To Me Gently”, and “Heart Of The Night”. All three singles made it onto the Pop top 40, while both “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me” and “Break It To Me Gently” were Country 40 hits, with the latter being the only top ten hit on either chart, peaking at two on the Country charts. It was also the last significant hit for Juice, until 1985. “Heart Of The Night” was the follow-up, but only peaked in the fifties on the Country side, while stopping at twenty-five on the Pop side. After that, her next seven singles failed to generate much buzz, with only “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” breaking into the Country 40. But in 1985, after a label change to RCA, she would return to prominence, as the number one hit, “You Make Me Want To Make You Mine” began a run of five straight top five hits.
“Heart Of The Night” is the album’s opening track, as well as the album’s third single. A sound that is more Pop/Rock, than it is Country, yet also has to be considered one of the album’s highlights. A great track, despite it’s less-than-stellar chart peaks as a single.
It’s interesting to note that “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me”, the lead-off single, did crack the Country 40, despite being an out and out rocker; no Country, whatsoever. For me, it’s also the weakest of the three singles. An okay track, but one that’s never been able to grab my attention, that much. That said, I do have to say that the exchange between the verses and the title are pretty cool. It’s also worth noting that one of the background voices on this track, is the late Andrew Gold, who scored his own Pop hit in 1977 with song, “Lonely Boy”, a song that my wife and I just happened to be listening to, today.
“Break It To Me Gently”; I guess you could call it a power ballad; was the album’s big hit. I don’t know how you can’t like this song. No, it’s not Country in the Ricky Skaggs or George Jones, sense, but the song, itself, has a strong Country feel to it. Of course, this wasn’t the song’s first go-around, as it had been a 1962 Pop hit (#4) for Brenda Lee. This is one of those relatively rare songs, where I actually prefer the remake.
“Love Sail Away” is fun, bouncy track that has a touch of Rockabilly feel to it. You might remember (if you’re in my age range) that this was around the time that a group called The Stray Cats were giving that style a brief revitalization, and this track would fit right in with that.
Side one ends with a ballad, “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can”. Written by legendary songwriter Bob McDill, who wrote many of Don Williams’ hits, it’s a soft sound that highlights how well Juice Newton could handle a slower song.
Side two opens with another cover, the Gene Pitney hit “I’m Gonna Be Strong”. Arranged in a fashion not unlike her earlier hit, “Angel Of The Morning”, in fact, you feel like that’s what they’re going for. While it’s a great song and I really like how Juice Newton handles it, here’s the issue I have with it; the original Gene Pitney version starts out sparse, slowing increasing the sound and the drama throughout, until you get the big finish, and it works well on this song. Unfortunately, here, they try to do the dramatic feel throughout the whole song, and while it’s not a complete miss, I think the track loses something with that style, as opposed to the original Pitney version.
“Trail Of Tears” is another track that originates from the Nashville writing set, this time Roger Cook and Allen Reynolds. Good Country-rocker, here, that one will be hard-pressed to find anything to not like about.
The album takes a more Country direction, along with a dash of that South Of The Border sound on “Adios Mi Corazon”, a track that would have fit right in with that era’s Country sounds. A mid tempo track that I would label as decent.
“Falling In Love” is another Bob McDill song that first saw light as part of Don Williams’ 1977 Country Boy album. The strongest Country sound on the album, also a decent track, where the song is elevated by the performance of the vocalist, Juice Newton.
The album’s final track is the ballad “Ever True”, which is performed in what I’d label as a medium-slow tempo and continues a more Country direction of the previous two tracks. And of the non-singles, it’s the strongest ballad on the album, great track.
The album is available, solo, as an MP3 download. As for a CD copy, you can get it as part of a two-fer, with her previous release, Juice, or, I also saw a three-fer, that also includes both of these albums, along with the next release Dirty Looks. As for used copies, both vinyl and cassette seem to be easy to find, and both generally less than $10.
My Standout Track goes to “Heart Of The Night”. Great track. “Ever True” gets my Hidden Gem nod, while the Weakest Track goes to “Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me”. I know there are those who won’t believe that’s my pick, but the song just never did anything for me.
Overall, it’s another fine effort from Juice Newton. I don’t think Quiet Lies was quite as good as Juice, put it comes pretty close. The biggest difference between the two albums, is that the grit heard on the Juice release, got a bit more polished, here. Still, a very good album, though, one that’s definitely held up well, over the years. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1982, Andrew Gold, Bob McDill, Break It To Me Gently, Capitol Records, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Heart Of The Night, Juice Newton, Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me, Quiet Lies, RCA Records