My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Complicated’

TanyaTuckerComplicatedRainy walks, a midnight talk, dance me on your feet
Hold me close, don’t let go, all I’ll ever need
Is a single rose, a kiss hello, that smile upon your face
The tender way, you say my name takes my breath away
Little things

The first single released from Tanya Tucker’s 1997 album, Complicated, was the romantic ‘Little Things’ which finds the singer appreciating all the small things her man does for her like walking with her in the rain and making her laugh.  It climbed to the #9 position on the country charts and is Tucker’s last appearance in the top 10 to date.  A second single and my favorite from the album was ‘Ridin’ Out the Heartache’. The tune is another of the countless ‘leaving in a car’ songs that dotted the country charts a decade ago.  This catchy tune about driving south in a ’66 Chevrolet stalled at #45 and no subsequent singles were released.  Despite being one the top 10-played artists on country radio in 1996, the next would prove to be Tanya’s last successful year with radio.

It’s worth mentioning that Tanya sued Capitol Records in 1998 for $300,000.  The suit – which reportedly began when Capitol refused to finance a music video for the second single – centered on the label’s lack of promotion for the album and accused the label of focusing all its efforts on another artist.  The suit never named the other artist, but Garth Brooks had just the year before orchestrated a takeover at the label, ousting long-time chief Scott Hendricks for Pat Quigley, said to be hand-picked by Brooks.  Tucker also asked to be let out of her contract with Capitol.

In Tanya’s defense, she did turn in a quality album to the label, plenty worth promoting.  Just after the first two tracks, which are the two singles, comes the melancholy ‘It Hurts Like Love’.  This is followed by the swinging ‘I Don’t Believe That’s How You Feel’, written by Harlan Howard and Kostas, it’s a forgive-me number done up in Cajun style.  ‘By The Way’ makes use of the double-entendre.  The verses begin each statement with ‘by the way’ using the phrase as a opening to each observation.  Then in the chorus, it’s used to tell how the singer assures her man she knows he loves her ‘by the way you smile’.

‘Love Thing’ begins with a spoken word intro and then launches into a groovy guitar lick that drives the entire song.  It was co-written by Tanya’s former duet partner, Delbert McClinton along with Bill LaBounty and its rocking feel coupled with Tanya’s growling vocals turn this from just an okay song to one of the most enjoyable on the album.  ‘Wishin’ It All Away’ is very similar thematically to Reba’s ‘Little Rock’ but it takes on a sad undercurrent to the ‘money can’t buy love’ theme.  The protagonist in this song is not content with just ‘everything that a girl could want’.  She needs love.

The title track is another rocking number that finds Tanya in full swing.  When this album was released, I remember seeing an interview with Tanya where she said the title track summed up her love life in one word: complicated.  You and me both, Tanya. Craig Wiseman wrote the smart ‘All I Have To Offer You Is Love’ and Tanya  turns in as fine a performance as I’ve heard of the song here.  In 1995, Dusty Springfield had included it on her A Very Fine Love album, also referred to as Dusty In Nashville.

‘What Your Love Does For Me’ opens with a searing fiddle and kicking drum beat. Tanya spits the lyrics of this tune in rapid succession and makes it another enjoyable country rocker.   ‘You Don’t Do It’ tells of the living-for-the-day things we all dream of doing, but let our better judgment take over.  This is probably for the best, but as the hook to this album closer suggests, ‘you don’t do it baby, you just think about it’, maybe we could all use a little more adventure in our lives.  Tanya Tucker could certainly be an example of someone who chose to walk on the wild side and come back to tell about it.

My favorite thing about this album is how it reflects Tanya Tucker’s personality so well. Long-time Tanya Tucker producer Jerry Crutchfield was replaced with Gregg Brown, probably another effect from the Capitol takeover.  With a new producer and still riding her wave of 1990s success, Tanya Tucker delivered a fun, breezy, and at times brilliant album to cap off her tunure with Capitol Records.  And this is a fitting end to one of the most successful chapters in Tucker’s storied career.

Grade: B+

16 responses to “Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Complicated’

  1. Razor X June 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Gregg Brown was brought in as producer after Tanya’s previous album Fire to Fire had bombed. Pat Quigley taking over the reins from Scott Hendricks also resulted in the label reverting back to the Capitol Nashville name, after being having been renamed Liberty a few years earlier.

    Gregg Brown was Travis Tritt’s producer and he seemed like a really good choice to work with Tanya. This was a good solid album that deserved more attention and support from the label than it got.

    Tanya didn’t release another album until 2002, when her lawsuit with Capitol was settled. As part of the settlement, she was given her own imprint, Tuckertime, and more creative and marketing control. Unfortunately, the musical landscape had changed considerably in the five years since Complicated came out and radio had moved on to other, younger artists.

    • Dee June 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

      Capitol ruined Tanya’s career and then stomped on her some more. It was their ‘brilliant’ idea to try and make Tanya appear more reserved as opposed to the wild child that she was.

      They wouldn’t let her out of her contract and also wouldn’t let her record.

      Capitol even prevented Tanya from participating in the Tammy Wynette tribute album. Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad was performed by (I think) K. T. Oslin instead of Tanya.

      Even after Tanya won the lawsuit Capitol still didn’t hold up their end of the deal. An absolutely wonderful cd, 2002 Tanya, was next to impossible to find in stores. Capitol was supposed to distribute the cd.

      Every career eventually winds down, but Tanya got a raw deal all the way around. With that said, she isn’t the only legend that got dumped on by their label.

      • Razor X June 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

        K.T. Oslin did do “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” on the Tammy tribute album, and she made a terrible mess of it. I didn’t realize that Tanya was originally supposed to do it. What a shame, because you know she would have nailed that song.

        • Dee June 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

          yep, I have heard Tanya do it live…. it was awesome. Probably even better than Tammy did it.

        • Dee June 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm

          If you have listened to any of Tanya’s recent interviews, she is estatic with Saguaro Road Records because they are truly working for her and promoting her new project.

          Tanya is clearly not accustomed to that type of treatment.

        • Razor X June 29, 2009 at 9:38 am

          If you read her book, she says the same thing about the support she got at Capitol when she first signed with them. When “One Love At A Time” shot up the charts, she said that it was nice to have the full support of her label — something that she hadn’t had in many years. She’d left MCA in 1982 because they had stopped promoting her. The difference was that they let her out of her contract and didn’t try to destroy her career.

  2. Michael June 28, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Thanks for all of the info on Tanya’s career during this period. My favorite track from this album was “Ridin’ Out the Heartache.”

    Fire To Fire (the album released between Soon and Complicated) was a definite disappointment. The label made a puzzling decision for a first single and Tanya looked positively matronly in the video.

    I didn’t know that Dusty Springfield had recorded “All I Have To Offer You Is Love.” Over the years Tanya has recorded a lot of songs that were later (or earlier) covered by other artists. A quick check of my Tanya Tucker CDs revealed these:

    Everything That You Want (Reba)
    I’ll Take the Memories (Lorrie Morgan)
    Between the Two of Them (Alabama)
    I’ll Take Today (Gary Allan)
    Same Old Story (Garth Brooks)
    The Thunder Rolls (Garth Brooks)
    Your Love Amazes Me (John Berry)
    Just About Now (Faith Hill)
    Old Weakness (Coming On Strong) (Patty Loveless)
    Over My Shoulder (Patty Loveless)

    Further research on the internet revealed many more from her early work. Recording songs for album filler that were made popular by other artists was pretty common in Nashville during the 70s though:

    Delta Dawn (Helen Reddy, Bette Midler)
    The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA (Donna Fargo)
    I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)
    Would You Lay With Me (Johnny Cash)
    Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly)
    Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson/Leon Russell)
    Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry)
    Angel From Montgomery (John Prine, Bonnie Raitt)
    Why Me Lord? (Kris Kristoffersen)
    You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker)
    When Will I Be Loved (Linda Ronstadt)
    Almost Persuaded (David Houston)
    After the Thrill Is Gone (Eagles)
    Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield, Bobbie Cryner)
    You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (Dusty Springfield) (I love this one!)
    Someday Soon (Suzy Bogguss)

    She’s also been a part of a few tribute albums:

    Already Gone (Eagles)
    Teddy Bear (Elvis)
    Something (Beatles)

    In many of the showdowns I think Tanya’s version wins. Does anyone have an opinion on her versions or know of other examples?

  3. bll June 28, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    “Garth Brooks had just the year before orchestrated a takeover at the label, ousting long-time chief Scott Hendricks for Pat Quigley, said to be hand-picked by Brooks. ”

    I wish people would stop repeating this as it is patently untrue. Garth ran his career, not the label.

    While I’m sure Garth’s sales were an influence, Sir Colin Southgate weided the power, not Garth. There’s a great section addressing Tanya’s treatment at Capitol in Pasti Bale Cox’s book The Garth Factor if you’re interesested in the story from an industry insider.

    • J.R. Journey June 28, 2009 at 3:11 pm

      It’s still fact that in Tanya’s suit she accused the label of focusing all its efforts on one artist. If this artist wasn’t Garth Brooks, then who was it?

      I don’t know about Garth taking over the label from anything more than just a fan’s perspective. But I did order Patsi’s book last week and it should be arriving anytime.

      • Brady June 29, 2009 at 9:11 am

        Trace Adkins makes a few allegations in his own book and I think he even refers to it as the Dark Garth period. He said Hendricks had a few Top 5 hits with him and maybe another new artist that I can’t think of before he was “mysteriously” ousted because he wouldn’t focus on achieving sales records for Brooks. None of that’s verbatim, but I believe it’s the gist of what he said and I don’t have the book available to look it up.

        I don’t know how much more “inside” you can get between that and Tucker’s suit. I haven’t read Patsi Bale Cox’s book, but I wouldn’t expect Garth to allow access to anyone who might write something remotely negative (if she did have access). I’m not saying Garth is a bad guy, but his interests don’t necessarily align with those of other artists on the same label and if he had the influence…

        • bll June 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

          Brady, she states in the book she had full access to both Capitol’s and Garth’s archives via GB Management. She worked with Garth, and wrote all the press biographies for him from the start of the career. She knows him professionally and privately, and doesn’t sugar coat shortcomings on his part.

          She presents the facts, good, bad and in Bowen’s case the ugly. It is a well researched and balanced look into the recording industry as a whole, and it addresses Tanya’s complaint.

  4. Razor X June 28, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Most major label artists run into problems like this sooner or later. The labels are run a lot like the old Hollywood studios used to be. It would be nice to scrap the whole system and replace it with one in which the artist got to retain ownership of his/her work, and could leave a label if things weren’t working out, without risking the ruination of his/her career. That’s the type of thing that Clint Black was trying to do with Equity; it’s a shame that it didn’t work out.

  5. Aussie country girl August 19, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Love this CD it’s a shame that Tanya’s time with the label came to such a sad end. I would love to hear her Tammy Wynette tribute. Love Tanya Tucker she’s an original. Her induction into the country music hall of fame is overdue.

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