My Kind of Country

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

Rediscovering Forgotten Gems

randy1This is my debut blog entry for My Kind Of Country. I want to thank J.R. for inviting me to become a contributor and look forward to discussing country music with all of you.

In everyone’s CD collection, there are inevitably discs that go unplayed for long periods of time while others are constantly in heavy rotation. Last night I was looking to break out of the musical rut I’d recently found myself in and searched through my collection for something I hadn’t played in a while. I ended up choosing This Is Me by Randy Travis. I’ve been a huge Randy Travis fan since the first time I heard “Diggin’ Up Bones” and “On The Other Hand” back in 1986. I dutifully bought every album he released. After four excellent albums in the ‘80s – Storms Of Life (1986), Always & Forever (1987), Old 8×10 (1988 ) and No Holdin’ Back (1989) – his career began to slow down in the ‘90s. He continued to put out quality music, but nothing that had the impact of his ‘80s work. By the time This Is Me was released in 1994, Randy was no longer country music’s hottest commodity. The neotraditionalist movement had run its course, and Nashville was very much centered around Garth Brooks. Although I was still (and am to this day) a huge Travis fan, This Is Me was an album that didn’t see the inside of my CD player very often.

Last night while listening to the album for the first time in a very long time, I was struck by the realization that it was actually  very solid. The opening track “The Honkytonk Side Of Town” and the Bobby Braddock-penned “Small Y’all” are filler, but the remaining eight tracks are real gems. The album produced the #1 hit “Whisper My Name”, as well as three other top 10 hits – “Before You Kill Us All (#2), “The Box” (#7) and the title track (#5). The closing track “Oscar The Angel” is a real keeper. As I listened to it, I found myself wondering why this album didn’t make more of an impression on me when it was first released. It was no commercial failure, having earned gold certification from the RIAA, but that was a far cry from the multi-platinum level sales Randy had enjoyed in the ‘80s. It definitely deserved more attention than it got from both myself and the general public, and I made a mental note to start playing this one more often. It’s also motivated me to take another look through my collection for more forgotten gems.

What are the some of the forgotten gems in your collection?

18 responses to “Rediscovering Forgotten Gems

  1. Chris D. February 2, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    My parents have Faith Hill’s Fireflies, and I instantly wrote it off, mostly because of the scathing “Slant” review (It got 0 stars out of 5).

    Then I finally gave the album a listen and I fell in love with so many of the songs- it’s by far my favorite Faith album since I don’t really like any of the other ones I have.

    “Fireflies” and “Stealing Kisses” are my favorite tracks from the album, for sure. Lori McKenna is something special…

  2. Rainbow February 3, 2009 at 1:59 am

    I’d have to say Dolly’s “Something Special”. I’ve always loved that album, but it still goes unplayed for months at a time.

    And Chris, no Faith Hill album ever goes unplayed here. 😛

  3. Leeann Ward February 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Yeah, that’s a great album, though I, personally, love “Small Y’all” too, though I know it’s schmaltsy.
    This doesn’t exactly answer your question, but I had the same experience with Vince Gill’s The Key. At the time of its release, I was more into the contemporary country sound, so was pretty disappointed in the traditionalism of that album, even as a huge Vince fan. Then a couple of years ago, when my tastes shifted away from contemporary to traditional, I fell in love for the first time with the album that I had already owned for seven or so years.

  4. Leeann Ward February 3, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Wow, that Faith Hill album really got 0 out of five stars? Now, it’s certainly not my favorite album, but it wasn’t *that* bad.

  5. Razor X February 3, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I haven’t heard “Fireflies” all the way though, but based on the radio singles, it’s an improvement over most of what immediately preceded it.

    Leann, “The Key” is one of my favorite Vince Gill albums. One of his that I haven’t played a lot is “Next Big Thing”. I’m going to have to give that one another listen soon.

  6. Rainbow February 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Jonathan Keefe is insane.
    At first I thought he just bore a stong grudge against Faith, but she’s certainly not the only one to be panned by him.

    Martina McBride’s “Timeless” got 1 1/2 stars.
    Josh Turner’s “Your Man” got 2 stars.
    Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up” got 1 star.
    Sara Evans’ “Real Fine Place” got 2 1/2 stars.
    Deana Carter’s “The Chain” got 2 1/2 stars.
    Dixie Chicks’ “Taking The Long Way” got 1/2 star.

  7. Leeann Ward February 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Razor, The Key is my favorite Vince album now too. Next Big Thing is another album that grew on me over time. I like it leagues better than Alan Jackson’s 17 song set.

    Also, Razor, that’s pretty much how I feel about the Faith Hill album, though I’ve heard the whole thing. I just had no interest in her Cry album at all.

  8. Rainbow February 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I love “Cry”.
    Not because I love pop, but because I love a great vocalist singing great songs, which “Cry” definitely has. The final cut is gorgeous.
    I think even Razor might enjoy it.

  9. Occasional Hope February 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Most recently, I’d have to say LeAnn Rimes’ Blue. I hadn’t listened to it for a long time until yesterday. I was reminded how impressive she was at just 13.

    Randy is one of my favourites too, but although This Is Me is a good record, I don’t think it’s one of his best, and High Lonesome which immediately preceded it, and Full Circle, the next one, are both significantly better imo. I probably overlook it a little myself, and maybe I need to revisit it again.

    I’ve always been disappointed that Randy’s commercial success seemed to burn out such a short time after he led the way in bringing back a more traditionally-oriented sound.

  10. Razor X February 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    “I’ve always been disappointed that Randy’s commercial success seemed to burn out such a short time after he led the way in bringing back a more traditionally-oriented sound.”

    I feel the same way. I thought he’d be another George Strait and stay on top forever but his star faded quickly.

    Rainbow, you DO like pop and you know I wouldn’t like that album.

  11. Rainbow February 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I didn’t say I didn’t like pop – I said that’s not WHY I love that album.

    I know you wouldn’t like that album, but that last song is very different from almost anything else Faith has done.

  12. Razor X February 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Sorry, I misread your comment the first time around. I thought you were talking about the whole album and not just the final track.

    I played the YouTube clip, and sorry, but I just don’t like it. Just another schmaltzy, boring pop song. She does a decent job on it, but it’s just not the sort of thing I want to listen to.

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  14. Michael February 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I always liked this album too. It was definitely a fine return to form for Randy Travis after the disaster that was Wind in the Wire. I loved “Whisper My Name” and “Before You Kill Us All”. Randy continued to release some killer singles over the next few years (“Are We In Trouble Now”, “Out of My Bones” and “Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man”) and has a Grammy nomination now for “Dig Two Graves”. As for my own rediscoveries, I occasionally take out:

    Patty Loveless’ When Fallen Angels Fly and The Trouble With the Truth
    Tanya Tucker’s What Do I Do With Me and Strong Enough to Bend
    Reba’s late 80s and early 90s work (esp Rumor Has It)
    Trisha Yearwood’s early albums
    Garth’s early output
    Vince Gill’s When Love Finds You
    The Judds’ River of Time and Love Can Build a Bridge
    Wynonna’s debut, Tell Me Why and What the World Needs Now Is Love,
    Carlene Carter’s Hindsight 20/20
    Rosanne Cash’s Hits 1979 – 1989 (sorry for cheating, I know these last two are compilations)
    Lorrie Morgan’s early albums
    Dolly Parton’s Treasures
    Bobbie Cryner’s Girl of Your Dreams, etc.

    and three that never really leave my CD player for too long but may be a rediscovery for some readers are:
    Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come On Come On
    the Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way and
    the various artist compilation Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles.

    Thanks for letting me share. Hope this jogs some memories. 🙂

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