My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: George Strait – ‘Right Or Wrong’

george strait right or wrongIn 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.

Grade: B+

It is still readily available at any CD retailer.

5 responses to “Album Review: George Strait – ‘Right Or Wrong’

  1. Michael September 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Nice review, J.R. The video for “You Look So Good In Love” was sooooo cheesy! :o) “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” is still one of my favorites too. Reba later did a cover of “Right or Wrong” with Asleep at the Wheel (as I’m sure you know) and Keith Stegall recorded his own version of “Everytime It Rains (Lord Don’t It Pour)” on his lone release, 1996’s Passages.

  2. Paul W Dennis September 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    “Right Or Wrong” was recorded many times by Bob Wills for a variety of record labels. George’s version is good but anyone that has heard one of the Bob Wills versions knows (as Waylon put it) “Bob Wills Is Still The King”

    By the way, I believe that one of Bob’s old Texas Playboys (Johnny Gimble) played fiddle on this record and one of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours (Leon Rhodes) played bass guitar . The steel player sounds like it’s Weldon Myrick (Connie Smith’s steel player) , but I could be mistaken about that

    • Occasional Hope September 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm

      You’re not mistaken, Paul – the credits say it is Weldon Myrick on steel. Johnny Gimble played electric mandolin as well as fiddle here.

      I’d forgotten how good this album was (apart from Let’s Fall To Pieces Together, which is one of my favourite Strait recordings).

      ‘Our Paths May Never Cross’ was written by Merle Haggard.

      • J.R. Journey September 9, 2009 at 6:56 pm

        This was actually my first-listen to many of these tracks, and I enjoyed them a lot. I’ve never listened to many of Strait’s early albums, but I’m going back and discovering them as we do these reviews. And I have to say I like what I’m discovering. I didn’t expect to like this album as much as I did.

    • Razor X September 9, 2009 at 7:20 pm

      Johnny Gimble played on quite a few of Strait’s 80s albums. As far as versions of “Right or Wrong” are concerned, Merle Haggard did a very good one which was on his Bob Wills tribute album — A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World . But I have a special fondness for Strait’s version since that was the first version of the song I ever heard.

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