My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Waylon Jennings – ‘Only The Greatest’

only the greatestThe title of Only The Greatest, released in 1968, may suggest a compilation, but in fact it was another new album, produced as before by Chet Atkins. The material focuses on broken hearts.

the initial single, ‘Walk On Out Of My Mind’ was Waylon’s iggest hit to date, reaching #5 on Billboard.

The album’s best remembered track was the booming assertive second single, #2 hit ‘Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line’, the first real example of his mature style. This stands up today as an all-time classic.

The next best song is the Hank Cochran ballad ‘You’ll Think Of Me’, addressed to the protagonist’s ex-wife’s new husband, warning him of what lies ahead:

When the new wears off
And the glamor’s gone
But the ties that bind
Keep holdin’ on –
And they’re strong

You’ll think of me being with her
Like I thought of her
Being with them and you
And God knows who
You’re happy now but wait and see
When she treats you
Like she’s treated me
As you wake to see
Who the next will be
You’ll think of me

The perky ‘California Sunshine’, written by Harlan Howard has the lovelorn protagonist heading west to get over a heartbreak by finding new love. Waylon’s vocal is solid and committed, but the production has dated a bit.

Waylon shows his skills as a tender ballad singer on the Jerry Chesnut-penned ‘Weakness In A Man’. The Nashville Sound backing vocals, while dated, actually work quite well on this song, in which a disturbing threat of murdering his straying wife is masked by a gentle melody.

Waylon co-wrote just a couple of tunes: the pleasant sounding if lyrically doleful ‘Sorrow (Breaks A Man Down)’ is okay, but I really enjoyed the mid-tempo ‘Wave Goodbye To Me’, which he wrote with Don Bowman and Jackson King.

‘Christina’ is a Spanish-flavored number in the style of Marty Robbins, with bright horns. Red Lane wrote ‘Walk On Out Of My Mind’, a sad song about the aftermath of a breakup. ‘Such A Waste Of Love’ is a downbeat tune written by Bobby Bare, while ‘Long Gone’ is a Jerry Reed cover, and quite enjoyable.

One misstep is a cover of pop singer-songwriter Neil Diamond’s ‘Kentucky Woman’, which just doesn’t translate into a country song – Waylon’s version is very similar to the original. While not precisely a misstep, Waylon’s perfectly good version of the beautiful ‘Too Far Gone’ (written by the late Billy Sherrill) pales a little in comparison to Emmylou Harris’s cover a few years later.

On the whole, though, this is a very good album which shows Waylon developing into the artist he was to become.

Grade: A-

2 responses to “Album Review: Waylon Jennings – ‘Only The Greatest’

  1. Paul W Dennis August 10, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Actually, this is my favorite early Waylon album and I don’t regard “Kentucky Woman” as a misstep at all. RCA UK was thinking of issuing the track as a single , and while I don’t think that happened, Waylon’s recording did receive some airplay on the BBC

    “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” reached #1 on Record World

  2. Luckyoldsun August 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    The album title, with the words “the Greatest,” may possibly have been intended to allude to what was an oft-repeated boast of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali at the time. Country songs and albums seemed to piggyback onto media and commercial catch phrases and trademarks quite frequently, with Buck Owens adopting Esso gas’s “tiger in your tank” trademark into the hit “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail,” Tom T. Hall/Jeenie Seeley using the “Laugh-In” catch phrase “Sock it to me,” in “Harper Valley PTA,” and Charlie Walker managing to turn the toilet paper ad line “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” into a song.
    The best reference to Clay/Ali is in a somewhat obscure Skeeter Davis song called “I’m A Lover, Not a Fighter,”–which would definitely be worth posting here!
    Mary Chapin Carpenter revived the idea of taking lines from commercials in the ’90s with her song “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” which played off a Geritol commercial that had widely been panned as sexist.

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