My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Crystal Gayle – ‘Ain’t Gonna Worry’

aint-gonna-worryThe rise of the New Traditionalists changed the face of commercial country music, with crossover artists like Crystal sidelined. Her final #1 hits came in 1986, and her last top 40 country song a couple of years later. Warner Brothers dropped her, but rival Capitol Records (just starting to benefit from the breakout of Garth Brooks, with whom Crystal shared a producer in Allen Reynolds) still saw commercial potential in her. Crystal’s brief tenure on Capitol resulted in this one album in 1990, which saw her drawing back a little from the overly sentimental and sometimes lifeless MOR material she had been recording through most of the 1980s.

‘Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone’ is a very nice song, written by Allen Reynolds and Dickey Lee, with a pretty melody, a lovely vocal from Crystal and a tasteful arrangement. Despite its merits it was ignored by radio when released as Crystal’s first single for her new label. In other circumstances, it could easily have been a big hit.

An enjoyable upbeat remake of the pop/country oldie ‘Neverending Song Of Love’ with a bouncy accordion backing got marginally more attention, but she would never chart again. Also promoted as singles were ‘Just An Old Love’, a classy lost-love ballad with a string arrangement; and the semi-title track, ‘It Ain’t Gonna Worry My Mind’. Written by Crystal’s favourite writer Richard Leigh, it is a bluesy gospel-sounding tune set to a piano and string backing.

Three other songs are familiar from other versions. J D Souther’s ‘Faithless Love’ suits Crystal perfectly, as does ‘Once In A Very Blue Moon’, written by Pat Alger and Gene Levine, which had been Nanci Griffith’s first single and had also been cut by Dolly Parton. Alger also co-wrote ‘What He’s Doing Now’, this time with Garth Brooks. Brooks would have an enormous hit with this a few years later, as ‘What She’s Doing Now’. Crystal’s version is excellent.

‘Just Like The Blues’, written by Roger Brown, is in a more contemporary style, but very well done. ‘More Than Love’, written by Roger Cook and Bobby Wood, is also pretty good, while ‘Whenever It Comes To You’, written by Richard Leigh and Susanna Clark, is a lovely ballad.

I overlooked this album when it first came out but I enjoyed much more than I anticipated. Released at a different time I think it would have produced several big hits, and it’s well worth a listen.

Grade: A

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13 responses to “Album Review: Crystal Gayle – ‘Ain’t Gonna Worry’

  1. Razor X January 27, 2017 at 8:38 am

    This is an outstanding album that didn’t get the attention it deserved.

  2. Alan Jobe January 27, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I agree with both of you that this is an excellent album. I too did not know it even existed until about ten years ago. While I wish I had bought it when it came out, discovering it years later was like receiving brand new music from her. While I admit I preferred her follow up to this – Three Good Reasons from Liberty – that came out in 1992, this one is a gem as well.

    Her version of Faithless Love is my favorite song here. Her vocals are amazing – I love it anytime show goes high and holds the note. I also love Reynolds arrangements, especially that beautiful instrumental in the bridge.

    Never Ending Song Of Love is another great one. If you read the liner notes, there is an incredible number of people singing backup on this. They must’ve rounded up everyone at Capital, including Garth Brooks, to help with this song. It’s so different from anything she’s ever recorded. I think if it had been the lead single, she might would’ve gotten more mileage out of it.

    Just An Old Love is classic Crystal Gayle. I play this one a lot. I know this would’ve been a favorite of my parents had they heard it. Other favorites are Once In A Very Blue Moon, It Ain’t Gonna Worry My Mind, and Just Like The Blues. However, there are no weak songs on here.

    When I compare her version of What He’s/She’s Doing Now to Garth’s, it makes me wish they had recorded it as a duet. If you listen to it, it makes sense if both people are remembering each other and it makes it more romantic that way. Garth could’ve sang the first verse and the chorus (with ‘she’s’) while Crystal could’ve sang the second verse and the chorus (with ‘he’s’). Then they both could’ve repeated the chorus at the end. A missed opportunity for sure.

    But I’ve heard or read so many people saying that they missed this album when it came out and discovered it later on. It’s a shame that radio discarded Crystal when they did. It sure was nice to see her reunited with Allen Reynolds again. Together on this album, they went out in style.

  3. Razor X January 27, 2017 at 10:30 am

    “…I think if it had been the lead single, she might would’ve gotten more mileage out of it.”

    I don’t think it would have made any difference. By that time, radio had written off most veteran performers, even if they were still making worthwhile music.

    I did get this album when it first came out and that was the first time I heard “What He’s Doing Now”. It was one of my favorite tracks on the album and I thought at the time it would have been a good single, but of course the plan all along was probably for Garth to release his own version as a single.

  4. Ken January 27, 2017 at 10:48 am

    The vocal abilities of some veteran acts diminish over time or they have such a specific style or sound that they simply cannot change with the times. But in 1990 Crystal had not yet reached her 40th birthday and remained in superb voice. She began her career twenty years earlier with a more traditional country sound but transitioned to a lush middle-of-the-road approach when country music changed direction in the late 70’s. Had she adapted to the times and returned to a traditional or simpler sound a few years earlier it could have been perceived as authentic given her musical history. Unfortunately she chose to stay at the A/C party too long and as that sound lost favor she failed to switch gears quickly. Her husband is also her manager so that decision could have been made in-house. Why they waited so long is the question as the handwriting was on the wall as multiple singles fail to hit and her album sales declined. They tied their hopes to a new relationship with Capitol Records but only found more disappointment.

    The musical arrangement for “Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” was a throwback to her United Artists days so she seemed to be on the right track. It’s a good song but the single was not compelling enough to overcome the competition from the flood of “new country” acts. It failed to grab the attention of radio programmers who had grown skeptical of Crystal due to a string of non-hit singles. Allan Reynolds is the co-writer and that may have driven that choice.

    “Never Ending Song Of Love” is what I call “Lawrence Welk country.” Whenever his cast members featured a country song on his show it never seemed authentic. The accordion sound had made a bit of a comeback in a few songs of that era (Streets Of Bakersfield) but for a veteran artist attempting to resurrect her career it was not an optimum choice.

    With so many fresh new acts with great new songs competing for airplay slots Crystal already had the deck stacked against her. But what made things worse was that Capitol had the hottest act of the century with Garth Brooks. All of the other acts on that label were pushed to the back of the bus and in some cases the side of the road as Garth-mania took hold. It was a no-win situation for Crystal and not a good conclusion to her career on the charts.

    “Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” was recorded by several artists in the early 1970’s. Dickey Lee (the song’s co-writer) and Brenda Lee both released it as the “B” side of 1971 singles, Lynn Anderson recorded it for her 1972 “Listen To A Country Song” album and Kitty Wells did a version for her 1972 “Sincerely” album. My favorite recording was by Pat Daisy. Her 1972 RCA Victor single climbed to #20 early that year.

    • Razor X January 27, 2017 at 11:44 am

      I didn’t realize “Everybody’s Reaching Out for Someone” was such an old song. I agree that “Never Ending Song of Love” wasn’t a great choice for a single. I think they were probably just looking for something uptempo and the album is pretty ballad-heavy.

      Also agree that she waited too long to change musical directions. She sort of disappeared for a while after the “Straight to the Heart” album. There was a two-year gap between that and the next album “Nobody’s Angel”, which came out in 1988. That would have been a good time for something more traditional, which “Nobody’s Angel” is not. It’s a rather lackluster album, IMO, although there are a few good cuts on it.

    • Paul W Dennis January 27, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Cashbox had Daisy’s record reach #13. The Cox Family had a nice recording on the song

      “Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” was one of those songs like “Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy” that seemed like a bigger hit than the Billboard charts indicated. Both songs were huge regional hits and were covered by many country artists as album tracks.

  5. Alan Jobe January 27, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Razor X, I believe you’re right. I don’t think radio would’ve played anything she released at this point. So sad, because she had a lot left to give.

    With this review, I’m assuming we won’t be getting reviews for Nobody Wants To Be Alone, Straight To The Heart, or Nobody’s Angel. Too bad because I loved those albums. But I’m greedy where Crystal is concerned. I wanted reviews of all of her albums from 1974 to 1992. This sure has been fun for me. Crystal rarely gets any attention for her music despite her enormous success during the 70s and 80s. I appreciate every review, track, and response posted here. You all have made me very happy because I’ve smiled all month long.

    • Razor X January 27, 2017 at 11:39 am

      No, I’m afraid we just couldn’t squeeze them all in and we did want to present some post-Warner Bros. stuff.

      • Alan Jobe January 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm

        Well, I understand, Razor X. I’m glad for any and every entry we’ve gotten. And at least my two favorite albums, Cage The Songbird and When I Dream, both got featured.

        I would like to cover my favorite tracks on the three albums I mentioned, so bear with me.

        Nobody Wants To Be Alone – This album contained six songs produced by Jimmy Bowen and four produced and co-written by Michael Masser, who went on to produce for Whitney Houston later on. I didn’t much care for the Masser songs with the exception of the beautiful You Were There For Me. I wish Crystal had chosen this for a single instead of the title track or A Long And Lasting Love. Those songs aren’t necessarily bad but were both kind of bland. Of the Bowen songs, I loved them all. I particularly loved Tonight Tonight and Coming To The Dance. I know most country fans don’t care for her jazzy songs, but Love Does That to Fools and God Bless The Child were excellent IMO.

        Straight To The Heart – produced by Jim Ed Norman, who is more identified with Anne Murray since he produced eight albums for her in the late 70s and early 80s. I loved what he did with Crystal on this album. Cry is my very favorite here because of Crystal’s incredible vocals. Norman got the idea for recording the standard while Crystal was recuperating from giving birth to her son Christos. It hit #1 in late 1986. It’s a standout for sure. I also liked the title track (her final #1 in early 1987), Only Love Can Save Me Now, Do I Have To Say Goodbye, and Nobody Should Have To Love This Way.

        Nobody’s Angel – I liked this album more than most people did. I didn’t care for her choice of singles and unfortunately both the title track and Tennessee Nights failed to become hits for her. I much preferred Hopeless Romantic (written by Billy Vera), Prove Me Wrong (co-written by Vince Gill), the pop-sounding Heat, Old Habits Die Hard, and tender ballad When Love Is New. And talk about odd choices for duet partners, she teams up with Dennis Locorriere (of Dr. Hook fame) for Love Found Me – and it worked.

        On a negative note, she did release an album between Straight to the Heart and Nobody’s Angel in 1987. The very forgettable duet album with Gary Morris called What If We Fall In Love. It’s a very 80s pop-sounding record that has very few redeeming moments. Both Gayle and Morris have amazing vocals but the song and production choices here are less than stellar. They should’ve quit with the #1 smash Making Up For Lost Time. However, they did get some mileage out of the soap opera theme for Another World.

        • Razor X January 27, 2017 at 2:08 pm

          Regarding “Nobody Wants To Be Alone” and “A Long and Lasting Love” — those are both pure AC ballads but I like them both a lot. I do like that album though there’s not much about it that is very country.

          The Sraight to the Heart album is pretty good but I don’t like it quite as much as Nobody Wants To Be Alone. “Cry” is fabulous and so is the title track. I really dislike the synthesizer-heavy “Lonely Girl” which is the closing track.

          Nobody’s Angel is pretty dull, although I did like the two singles and “Prove Me Wrong”.

          The Gary Morris duets album — agree with your assessment. I like the two singles but overall the album is way too pop for my tastes.

          I think Paul nailed it in his intro when he said that all of her albums have at least a couple of worthwhile songs. Some of them are not albums I would play all the way through very often but I’ve never come across one that didn’t have a song or two that I enjoyed.

  6. Alan Jobe January 31, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Razor X, the albums that I play the most – and play all the way through – are Crystal, We Must Believe In Magic, When I Dream, True Love, Cage The Songbird, Nobody Wants To Be Alone, Straight To The Heart, Nobody’s Angel, Ain’t Gonna Worry, and Three Good Reasons. Of her three Columbia releases, I only pull out Miss The Mississippi every once in awhile for a few good songs. Most fans prefer the UA albums but I actually loved her Warner Bros albums the most.

    I know I’m coming in late with this question and most of you have probably moved on, but I was wanting to get your opinions on why Nobody Should Have To Love This Way only climbed to #26 on the charts. It doesn’t really sound much different or inferior to any of her other songs at that time. Was it because (a) due to the release of Another World, radio felt the song was too old; (b) the song was a little too long for radio; (c) the annoying backup singers echoing ‘nobody, nobody, nobody’ (which I didn’t care for); or (d) by this time, radio had already made the decision to no longer play her songs anymore regardless of what she released?

    I would love to hear your opinions.

    • Razor X January 31, 2017 at 9:46 am

      If it was released around the same time as “Another World”, the two records may have been competing with one another. Or Warner Bros. may not have given it much promotional push, preferring to support the duet instead. I don’t think radio had quite written her off yet since “Only Love Can Save Me Now” went to #11 shortly afterwards.

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