In October 1983, the month and year I was born, George Strait was riding a wave of success from his first 2 albums, the second housing his first set fo chart-toppers, when his third album, Right Or Wrong, was released. It would be his first #1 charting album, and continue his hot streak on the Country Singles chart as all 3 singles from this record would reach the top spot. Right Or Wrong was Strait’s first teaming with producer Ray Baker, and his last that doesn’t list George Strait as a co-producr, and despite the album’s success, it would be their only collaboration – Strait would team with label-head Jimmy Bowen for the rest of his 1980s releases.
The lead single was also used to make George’s first music video. ‘You Look So Good In Love’ is a romantic-sounding ballad about a man who is observing his former lover as she shines in the arms of another man. The spoken-word bridge was something Strait rejected at first, but apparently the producer won out and it stayed in the song. But he had similar feelings about the music video, saying years later that he “lobbied to get that thing pulled off the air so no one would ever have to watch it again.” He also credits the making of that first music video with his aversion to music videos, a medium George Strait has notably ignored throughout his career. ‘You Look So Good In Love’ shot to the top of the charts, becoming his third single to reach the summit.
The album’s title cut would become the album’s second-single, and second consecutive chart-topper. The song itself is a jazz tune dating back to the early 1920s, and has been recorded by dozens of singers. Bob Wills had long been performing the song, and had recorded a version of his own. But it was Strait’s recording that made the song famous again – becoming the biggest hit recording the the western swing standard and winning the songwriter, Haven Gillespie, an ASCAP Award for it, some 65 years after it was written.
‘Let’s Fall To Pieces Together’ is a crying honky-tonk number with a hard intro, ‘Pardon me, you left your tears on the jukebox, and I’m afraid they got mixed up with mine‘. The fiddle-laden number sounds as good today as it did 26 years ago and is still one of my favorite Strait singles. It’s also one of the first instances of him employing the easy crooning style he would become known for in later years. The tune was written by Dickey Lee, Tommy Rocco, and the legendary Johnny Russell.
Like any album released during this high-production period for country artists, Right Or Wrong isn’t without some filler. The genre was much more singles-driven 25 years ago, and the status quo was to find a couple radio-ready hits and fill the album with what could be found, and maybe even some old cover tunes. George Strait did just that with this release, but still found some charming songs to fill the gaps between the brilliant ones.
Little Bit of Heaven – steel guitar-driven tale of a content man, having recently found himself an angel.
Everytime It Rains (Lord Don’t It Pour) – Charlie Craig and Keith Stegall, has a groovy electric guitar opening and succeeds in being a fun novelty tune, at least on the first couple listens.
The steel guitar-driven tale of a content man, having recently found himself an angel unfolds in ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’s Rubbing Off On Me’. ‘Everytime It Rains (Lord Don’t It Pour)’, written by Charlie Craig and Keith Stegall, has a groovy electric guitar opening and succeeds in being a fun novelty tune, at least on the first couple listens.
A couple stone-country gems are among the best on the album, and my personal favorites. ‘I’m Satisfied With You’ does a good job of mixing western swing and honky tonk, while ’80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper’ is pure honky tonk perfection – and Strait delivers an exception vocal on the whiskey-soaked tune. The waltzing ‘Our Paths May Never Cross’ sounds to me like a pleasant combination of a half-dozen other Strait songs, and makes easy-on-the-ears album filler. Fiddles kick off the album closer, written by Peggy Forman, and also frame the verses of this forgettable love-lost tune, ‘Fifteen Years Going Up (And One Night Coming Down)’.
Listening to Right or Wrong, it’s evident that even though he wasn’t listed a co-producer, George Strait was making the kind of music he wanted to, as this was his most-traditional album to date, and his most successful one at that. Traditional country doesn’t age like its pop-country counterparts, and these songs still sounds as good coming out of my speakers as I’m sure they did two and a half decades ago. And though it’s not without some filler, Right or Wrong is a great album, start to finish, and one of George Strait’s first major artistic statements to country music.
It is still readily available at any CD retailer.