My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review – Clint Black – ‘Nothin’ But The Taillights’

Clint_Black,_Nothin'_But_the_TaillightsAfter the somewhat lackluster One Emotion Clint Black regrouped by issuing his first Greatest Hits album, an effort surprising for its poor representation of his debut album (only “Killin’ Time” and “A Better Man” are included) among other noticeable absences. It still managed to go double platinum and included two big hits – the guitar ballad “Like The Rain” (a favorite of mine) and somewhat aggressive “Half Way Up.” The former would be another #1 hit for Black in the fall of 1996.

He returned with a new album in 1997, previewing it with “Still Holding On,” a duet with Martina McBride. Co-written with Matraca Berg and Marty Stuart, the track served as the lead single for both Black and McBride’s new releases that year. It peaked at #11 and became Black’s first single not to chart top 10. I’ve always loved the song and consider it a nice slice of pop-country, even if it is a tad generic from two label mates looking to cash in on each other’s success.

The next three singles from Nothin’ But The Taillights helped to greatly reverse Black’s fortunes and became three of his most impactful hits since his debut album. Black and Skip Ewing co-wrote “Something That We Do,” a love song inspired by Black’s marriage to actress Lisa Hartman Black. It’s a beautiful song, albeit a tad long, and one of the most endearing professions of love since Alan Jackson’s “I’ll Love You All Over Again.”

“Something That We Do” may’ve peaked at #2, but his next two singles were chart toppers. The Steve Wariner co-written title track is an upbeat guitar heavy (and comical) wife-pissed-off song that was played to death in early 1998 to the point where I can’t even listen to it today. I don’t hate it, but the novelty has worn off. I have the opposite reaction to “The Shoes Your Wearin,’” which finds Black writing with Hayden Nicholas again. I love everything about this track, from the drums and electric guitars to Black’s vocal.

Black and Nicholas also teamed up for the next single, “Loosen Up My Strings,” which peaked at #12. Another thickly produced number; Black’s popularity likely benefited its chart run, as it should’ve been left as an album track. The neo-traditional-leaning “You Don’t Need Me Know” charted lower, peaking at #29. I don’t even remember it being a single, but it’s an excellent song with a refreshingly understated melody and vocal.

Of the album tracks, “Our Kind of Love” is a country/bluegrass tune with Alison Krauss and Union Station and “Ode To Chet” is a classic Black type song in tribute to Chet Atkins, which features fancy guitar work from Atkins himself, Dann Huff, Wariner, and Mark Knopler. Both are fabulous, although Black could’ve benefited from giving a more restrained vocal on the collaboration with Krauss. It’s beautiful melody but he comes on a bit too strong for it all to be fully appreciated. “That Something In My Life” is also very strong while “You Know It All” and “Bitter Side of Sweet” are the album’s two weakest offerings.

Nothin’ But The Taillights really is the project that put Black back on top. Not since his debut had he experienced such impactful signature hits has he does here. I really enjoy this period of Black’s career as this is when I started following and enjoying his music as a kid. If Killin’ Time was Black’s neo-traditional masterpiece, Nothin’ But The Taillights marked his highest artistic achievement in pop and even somewhat rock country.

Grade: A-

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7 responses to “Album Review – Clint Black – ‘Nothin’ But The Taillights’

  1. Occasional Hope April 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Definitely a return to form for Clint. (But ‘You Know It All’ is my favourite track – lovely melody and sweet lyric.)

  2. Razor X April 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    This is one of my favorites, particularly “Something That We Do.”

  3. Luckyoldsun April 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    “Something That We Do” had the feel of a vanity project, with Clint bringing in a woman who had absolutely no history as a successful singer to duet with because she happened to be his wife. And it was a pretty lame song, more AC than country.
    For some reason, Clint totally changes his personality in his male-female duets, morphing from George Strait to some A.C. shlockmeister. The duet with McBride was worse.
    But the rest of the album was pretty good, certainly better than the two that had preceded it.
    It marked Clint’s last mainstream country album.

  4. Luckyoldsun April 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    You got me there, RX. I guess I was thinking of “When I Said I Do.” I take back my remark about “Something”.

  5. Acca Dacca July 19, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I enjoyed this album greatly. I was a kid as well when “Nothin’ But the Taillights” was on the airwaves though I’m sure that I was a tad younger than you. Even then, I remember it utterly assaulting the charts and seemed to come on at the top of every hour. In fact, I heard it so much that I remembered the tune as I got older, despite not being able to call the song to mind. When I decided to dive into Clint Black’s music (not realizing just how many songs of his I knew from when I was younger) my mind immediately went back to hearing it on the radio.

  6. Acca Dacca July 19, 2014 at 1:03 am

    By the way, you guys should have reviewed Clint’s two Greatest Hits releases, if only to delve into the four exclusive tracks on each. I think a single article would have done for both. I myself think the four new tracks on the first release are all great, while the ones on the second are mostly forgettable.

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