Greetings from Asheville, where today’s Single Of The Day turned out to be the final Country 40 single for Jan Howard. Twenty times between 1960 and 1972 Jan would chart Country 40 singles, the biggest being her 1967 duet with Bill Anderson, “For Loving You”, which spent a month at number one. In all, six of Jan’s appearances would result in top ten hits, including four with Bill Anderson.
Unfortunately, today’s Single Of The Day was not one of those top ten hits. “Love Is Like A Spinning Wheel” was released by Decca in late 1971, and debuted on the Country 40 in early February, 1972, only peaking at thirty-six. There is an understandably Italian flavor to this song, despite Owen Bradley’s largely country arrangement, as it was written by Italian songwriter Sergio Endrigo. It’s an easy mid-tempo track that is very melodic, enjoyable to listen to. Jan’s vocals are in fine form, here, and it’s actually kind of puzzling to me, as to why this single didn’t do better; it should have, in my opinion.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always around. It’s a various artists collection for today’s Classic Album Review. Classic Country Duets, a 1985 MCA release, featured ten tracks from artists affiliated with MCA, as well as it’s predecessors, Decca and Dot.
The album starts out with a hit from Don Williams and Emmylou Harris, their 1982 top five hit, “If I Needed You”. Their voices work pretty well, together, but the real highlight of this track, is the composition, itself. Great piece of writing.
Next, a track lifted from the Barbara Mandrell Spun Gold album, is a Mandrell duet with Steve Wariner, “Overnight Sensation”. An average piece that really has very little country to it, the sound is mainly 1980’s Adult Contemporary.
While the previous track really couldn’t be considered a “classic”, the next track has not problem falling into that category. “For Loving You”, the first in a series of duets for Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, spent a month at number one, at the end of 1967. Great track.
Remember, this album was released in 1985, when older performances weren’t nearly as readily available as they are now, so it was great to see the inclusion of the Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely hit “Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You”. Easily the best of their duets, together, this just missed number one, at the start of 1970. Hank Cochran co-wrote the song; he and co-writer Dave Kirby surely had these two in mind when writing it, as it’s perfect for their vocals.
Side one ends with a track that features Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn. I guess using the term “classic”, they were referring more to the performers, as opposed to the performances. “Sweet Thang” was a single, but missed the Country 40 in 1968 (whereas the version by Nat Stuckey was a top five hit). While it’s a decent performance, I would have rather seen “Mr. And Mrs. Used To Be” included.
The other really inexplicable addition opens side two, a Lee Greenwood and Barbara Mandrell duet from their Meant For Each Other album titled “Soft Shoulder”. Not even the best track on their album, why someone at MCA would use this over, say their hit, “To Me”, is beyond me. A fast-paced track, the performance is good, but the song is average.
There is a level of redemption, though, with the inclusion of the Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn number one classic “After The Fire Is Gone”. Do I really need to say anything about this outstanding recording?
Though not a hit, I am glad they did include the 1956 single from Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells, “Goodbye Mr. Brown”. Great piece of country music; one has to wonder why it wasn’t a hit.
While The Kendalls didn’t have any real success until “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” on the Ovation label, they did spend time with Dot in the early 1970’s, releasing several singles, including three minor chart entries on covers of “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane”, “Two Divided By Love”, and “Everything I Own”. Yet, rather than one of those, a track from their only Dot album, a cover of “Never Ending Song Of Love”, was used, instead. Actually, the strongest of the three non-singles included on this album. Good bouncy, infectious track.
The album ends with a 1978 top ten hit for Merle Haggard and then-wife, Leona Williams. “The Bull And The Beaver” is an up-tempo piece of a man and woman flirting (to say the least) on their CB’s. Not the greatest song of Merle’s career, but it is a likable song.
Now out of print, I did run across a few used copies, most in the $5-$10 range. I found used copies on vinyl, cassette, as well as compact disc.
Albums like this are difficult to pick a Standout or Hidden Gem (though you could argue the Kendalls track, here), since there are usually a plethora of hits, though not so much, here.
Overall, it’s a decent compilation that really could have been better, by simply exchanging a couple of tracks, but still utilizing the same artists. With the advent of digital technologies, most, if not all of these tracks are available, elsewhere. I rate it a 3 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1985, After The Fire Is Gone, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Anderson, classic country, Classic Country Duets, Conway Twitty, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Decca Records, Don Williams, Dot Records, Emmylou Harris, Ernest Tubb, For Loving You, If I Needed You, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Jeannie Seely, Kitty Wells, Lee Greenwood, Leona Williams, Loretta Lynn, MCA Records, Merle Haggard, Roy Acuff, Steve Wariner, Sweet Thang, The Bull And The Beaver, The Kendalls, Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music flows like a fine wine. Today’s Classic Album Review is of 1968 vintage; February, to be exact. Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, in my opinion, is one of country music’s more underrated duos. While there hit list isn’t as long as Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn’s or Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s, a listen to their harmonies reveals a sound that is nearly as good as the more famous pairings. Interestingly enough, of the three duos, Bill and Jan had the longest running number one single, 4 weeks, with “For Loving You”, the title cut of today’s featured album. The album was released by Decca Records about a month after the single peaked at number one. While “For Loving You” was the album’s only hit single, the album, itself, did quite well, peaking at six on the album lists.
“For Loving You” would turn out to be one of the top hits of 1967. It opens the album in style, giving you one of the classic sounds of the era. Simply a great track.
Next, you get a completely different take on a Buck Owens hit, as Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on “Above And Beyond (The Call Of Love)”. It’s given a slower, slicker pace than the original, but it works pretty well, overall.
Unfortunately, for me, “I Love You Because” doesn’t come off nearly as well. It feels as if they’re trying to give it the same feel as “For Loving You”, from the tempo, right down to the spoken parts, yet for this track, it just doesn’t quite work for me. Had they done it in it’s original form, though, I think it could have been a killer track.
One track that does work well is their take on the Hank Cochran song “I’d Fight The World”. It was a minor 1962 hit for Hank, and a hit in 1974 for Jim Reeves. Right here is some of the best work these two ever did, together.
You get a nice pickup in tempo with their take on Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”. Don’t expect anything like the original, but that’s okay, the Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on this classic works pretty well.
Side one ends with “Till Death Do Us Part”, which again, tries to emulate the “For Loving You” sound, and again, for me, falls a little short. Not a bad track, yet, not one that will particularly stay with you, either.
While some of the efforts to take copy the sound and style of “For Loving You” fall a little flat, side two’s opening track is a solid effort. “I Thank God For You” is in the same vein, yet with enough difference to not sound like a clone, this track is about a step below the title cut, in quality, but still very good, in fact, I think they might have missed a potential hit single, here.
Another enjoyable track is their take on the Lulu Belle And Scotty classic, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”. A really nice interpretation, it sounds like the song was written specifically for Bill Anderson and Jan Howard.
On “Born To Be With You”, you get nothing fancy, just a good, solid take on the Chordettes’ hit, that later in 1968, would hit number one on the country charts for Sonny James. Nice, smooth sound, here.
Okay, how many times has this subject been used in a country song (even by 1968)? Man leaves girlfriend to roam the world and (in his mind) to make his fortune. The girlfriend vows to remain true to him, no matter how long he’s gone or no matter what happens. Sadly, when he does return, the girlfriend is now either someone else’s wife, or she has died (the latter happens, here). Such is the case with “I’ll Be Waiting”. Though the subject is an oft-used one, the song doesn’t have the “been-there, heard-that” feel to it. You will find a good track, here.
Wrapping up the collection is a good version of the old standard, “Beyond The Sunset”. I think there’s a more intimate feel, here, than in most versions, which only makes the lyrics that much more effective. Credit Bill Anderson and Jan Howard for being able to do so, without making it sound syrupy.
Long out of print, a little searching should turn up some used copies. The ones I found were generally under $10, though a couple were in the $20 range.
The obvious choice for Standout Track is “For Loving You”, while my Hidden Gem choice is “I Thank God For You”. Weakest Track, “I Love You Because”.
Overall, it’s a nice effort from two greats of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t record more than they did, because, again, their sound, together, was on par with the other great duets of the era. One possible reason may well be that one of those greats, Conway and Loretta, also recorded on Decca, as well. I think this album is a good 3.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1968, Bill Anderson, Buck Owens, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Decca Records, For Loving You, Jan Howard, Johnny Cash, Lulu Belle And Scotty
This time, celebrating their seventh anniversary, again with the basement sale, but this time, the albums were fifty cents a piece.
Categories: Thrift Shop Finds Tags: Bill Anderson, Buck Owens, Carl Smith, classic country, Claude Gray, Conway Twitty, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, David Rogers, Don Gibson, Eddie Dean, Eddy Arnold, Ernest Tubb, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Glen Campbell, Hank Locklin, Harvest Records, Jan Howard, Jeannie C. Riley, Jimmie Davis, Jimmy Dean, John Conlee, Johnny Lee, Johnny Tillotson, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, Roy Clark, Sammi Smith, Shelly West, Skeeter Davis, Skeets McDonald, Slim Whitman, Slim Willet, Sonny James, Sons Of The Pioneers, Susan Raye, Tanya Tucker, The Browns, Vern Gosdin, Wilburn Brothers
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1968, Challenge Records, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Jan Howard, Starday Records, The One You Slip Around With, Wishful Thinking, Wynn Stewart