My Kind of Country

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

Week ending 12/6/14: #1 albums this week in country music history

george strait - lead on1964: Buck Owens- Together Again (Capitol)

1969: Johnny Cash – At San Quentin (Columbia)

1974: Merle Haggard – Merle Haggard Presents His 30th Album (Capitol)

1979: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1984: Willie Nelson –  City of New Orleans (Columbia)

1989: Randy Travis – No Holdin’ Back (Warner Brothers)

1994: George Strait – Lead On (MCA)

1999: Faith Hill – Breathe (Warner Brothers)

2004: Shania Twain – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

2009: Carrie Underwood – Play On (Arista/19)

2014: Garth Brooks – Man Against Machine (RCA/Pearl)

7 responses to “Week ending 12/6/14: #1 albums this week in country music history

  1. Paul W Dennis December 6, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    TOGETHER AGAIN is one of the all-time great albums. Not only does it feature “Together Again” and “My Heart Skips A Beat” both of which spent multiple weeks at #1 , but two songs that became fixtures in his live show for the next decade in “Hello Trouble” and “Truck Drivin’ Man” so that many assumed that Buck had the hit singles on the songs. There is also a song that Buck didn’t get to issue as a single in “A-11” because Johnny Paycheck heard Buck’s recording and took the song into the studios for his own first hit single, and a song “Ain’t It Amazing, Gracie” that Buck would re-record nine years later and have a top. “Close Up The Honky-Tonks” would become a hit single later for Charlie Walker. Add a few more Owens originals plus a really nice cover of the Drifters’ “Save The Last Dance For Me” and you have an album starts off great and never lets up for a second.

    For me , the original release of AT SAN QUENTIN was a bit of a rip-off, particularly after the excellent albums that preceded it. Don’t get me wrong, AT SAN QUENTIN was excellent, but it had a very short playing time, only nine tracks (only eight songs, with “San Quentin” repeated)

    • Ken December 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      The full title of Buck’s album is actually “Together Again/My Heart Skips A Beat.” It is an unusual album for Buck because it is comprised of songs recorded over several years (1961-1964) rather than an album that was created from recently recorded songs. Buck’s sound evolved significantly during that period and you can hear his style changing on this album. A total of 13 different musicians joined Buck & Don during the course of this album adding to the sonic diversity. Perhaps the reason that so much vintage material was included can be attributed to Buck’s intensive touring schedule that allowed him little time to travel to Capitol’s L.A. recording studios. The oldest song on the album “Storm Of Love” dates from a December 1961 session and prominently features Ralph Mooney’s steel guitar. It’s the epitome of the early Buck Owens’ “freight train” sound. Mooney also plays on “Save The Last Dance For Me” recorded in April 1962. Issued as a single that year it became a #11 hit but had not been issued on a Buck Owens album. One song dates from a February 1963 session, “Over And Over Again.” Jay McDonald was the Buckaroos’ steel player on that date and again for the July 1963 session that yielded “Getting Used To Losing You.” Steel guitar genius Tom Brumley joined the Buckaroos in January 1964 and at a session late that month he was in studio for “Ain’t It Amazin’ Gracie” “My Heart Skips A Beat” and “Together Again” that is in reality a duet featuring Buck’s voice & Brumley’s magnificent steel. The most recent songs on the album come from an early June 1964 session that was the first to feature the best-known Buckaroo line-up. Bass player Doyle Holly had joined the Buckaroos earlier that year around the time that Brumley had arrived and Willie Cantu was Buck’s brand new drummer. That ensemble was joined in the studio by Bob Morris who played bass while Holly switched to rhythm guitar for the session. In four hours they created five superb tracks – “Close Up The Honky Tonks,” “Truck Drivin’ Man,” “I Don’t Hear You,” “Hello Trouble” and “A-11.” An essential Buck Owens album – truly one of his best.

      Unfortunately the story Paul cited about Paycheck’s “A-11” recording is not accurate due to the timeline. Paycheck did not record the song until more than a year after Buck’s session. Paycheck recorded it at RCA Studios in New York City in the latter half of 1965 using George Jones’ band. George was in NYC for a Jimmy Dean Show appearance. According to Paycheck’s producer Aubrey Mahew on the way to the studio Paycheck changed his mind about recording a song that Mahew had chosen and stopped at a record store to purchase a copy of Buck’s “Together Again/My Heart Skips A Beat” album so he could learn the lyrics to” A-11.” By that time Buck had already followed up his “My Heart Skips A Beat/Together Again” single with four more singles and 4 new albums. If Buck had wanted to issue “A-11” as a single he had plenty of time to do so well before Paycheck’s version had been recorded.

      I too loved Cash’s “San Quentin” album but like Paul I was also initially disappointed by the extremely short playlist and running time. Believe I pretty much wore the needle on my phonograph through that record during the summer of 1969. The other kids in my neighborhood may have been focused on the acts at Woodstock but I was all about Johnny Cash! Needless to say I was elated when an expanded version of that album featuring all of Cash’s songs from the show was issued on a single CD more than 30 years later in 2000. Then in 2006 a box set was issued with the entire San Quentin show including performances by Carl Perkins, The Statler Brothers and the Carter Family on 2- CD’s plus a DVD of the Grenada TV Program filmed at that concert. Worth every penny.

  2. luckyoldsun December 6, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Paul–
    Both singers did a fabulous job with “Close Up the Honky Tonks”–or Close ALL the Honky Tonks” in Charlie Walker’s rendition. I’m not sure who recorded or released it first. Per Wikipedia, Charlie Walker’s single came out in 1964 and his album titled “Close All the Honky Tonks” came out in ’65. I think in those days, they would have made and titled the album later, to capitalize on the hit single, especially for an artist like Walker, who was only a mid-level star.
    Walker’s one of those artists–like Mark Chesnutt, Dale Watson and Rosie Flores–who are in my “personal” H-o-F, even if they won’t get into the real one without buying a ticket.

    • Ken December 6, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      Buck recorded “Close Up The Honky Tonks” twice. An early unreleased version on January 28, 1964. The released version was recorded at his next session on June 10, 1964.
      Charlie Walker recorded the song on August 14, 1964. The single was released in October 1964. It peaked at #17 in February 1965.

  3. Razor X December 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Something else that is interesting to note: Merle Haggard released his first album in 1966, and his 30th in 1974. Even taking into account that 30 was a somewhat inflated number (it includes compilations, live albums and collaborative albums with other artists), Imagine that happening today!

    • J.R. Journey December 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

      I was surprised at that too. Not 10 years after his first album was released, here comes the ’30th album’ from Haggard. The man was nothing if not prolific in those days.

      This is a pretty solid set of albums this week, and I have them all in my collection except for the Owens and Haggard releases. But I am familiar with the hit singles from both, and I especially like Haggard’s “Old Man from the Mountain”.

  4. Paul W Dennis December 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I was being facetious with my comment on Buck not releasing “A-11” as a single – one single per album was the order of the day for the biggest artists on Capitol and Buck, Sonny and Merle were all on this schedule. It just happened that both sides of “My Heart Skips A Beat” reached #1 !
    The album was reissued on the Sundazed label a few years back with information on the musicians playing on the various tracks plus two bonus tracks.

    Hags 30th Album was preceded by two hits collections, a Christmas album, a gospel album and three live albums (one of them being “semi-live”) and a duet album. Capitol was releasing about three studio albums per year on Haggard (also on Buck Owens and Sonny James).

    Meanwhile Musicor was releasing George Jones at a slightly faster clip (plus United Artist was issuing albums of older material on Jones at the same time) and RCA was giving Charley Pride the three albums per year treatment

    Lucky – Charlie Walker is in the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, inducted in 1981, and by some accounts he may have been the best golfer among country music stars

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