My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Crystal Gayle – ‘Three Good Reasons’

51qlwdksrjl1992’s Three Good Reasons was Crystal Gayle’s final major label album, released during the time that Capitol Nashville was known as Liberty Records. It was a last-ditch effort to get back on the radio. It appeared two years after her last album and six years after her last Top 10 record. Despite exceptionally strong material that was tailor made to appeal to the then-current trends at radio, it was a case of too little, too late. Radio had moved on to younger artists, and Liberty Records at that time neglected everyone on its roster who was not Garth Brooks. As a result, the album received only half-hearted promotion from the label. Only one single — the title track — was released and it did not chart.

The album was produced by Buzz Stone, who had previously produced an album for Riders In The Sky as well as Nanci Griffith’s live album a few years earlier. Whereas Ain’t Gonna Worry had largely been a throwback to Crystal’s early 70s sound, Three Good Reasons was an attempt to modernize her sound. With the possible exception of I’ve Cried The Blue Right Out of My Eyes, which was a compilation of her early work for Decca, it is her most country-sounding album. The fiddle and pedal steel can be heard prominently throughout the album and unlike its ballad-heavy predecessor, it contains plenty of upbeat material.

The title track did receive a fair amount of airplay on my local country radio station. It is an uptempo number about a young mother escaping from a bad marriage, citing “three good reasons to survive” — namely, her two children and herself. It was written by Don Schlitz and David Wingo and probably would have been a big hit if it had been released by a younger artist — or by Crystal herself a few years earlier. The album’s other divorce song, “A Rose Between Two Thorns” is a heartbreaking ballad about a child that feels caught between her feuding parents. “Living In Tears” is another very nice ballad.

Most of the other songs are uptempo numbers from Jackson Leap’s “Why Cry” and Mark Wright and B James Lowry’s “Love To, Can’t Do” to “The Trouble With Me (Is You)” a swing number written by L. Davis Lewis and Kim Williams. Despite the album’s traditional feel, Crystal had not totally abandoned her pop leanings: the mid-tempo “If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” had been a minor country and AC hit for Jimmy Buffett in 1985, and “One Less Set of Footsteps” had been a pop hit for its author Jim Croce in 1973. Crystal’s versions of both songs are well within the bounds of what was considered country in the early 90s.

Three Good Reasons is a perfect example of why commercial success should never be used to evaluate the quality of music. From an artistic standpoint, it is one of her strongest albums and as was pointed out in one of our prior discussions, if she’d changed musical direction a little earlier, she might have extended her chart tenure by a few more years. It’s a shame that this album didn’t succeed because I would have liked to have heard more in this vein from her.

Although Three Good Reasons marked the end of Crystal’s major label career, she did continue to record after she exited Liberty. She recorded a few religious albums, a few albums of traditional pop standards (one of which wa a very worthwhile tribute to Hoagy Carmichael), and a children’s album. An album of classic country covers is reportedly supposed to be released later this year.

Three Good Reasons probably escaped the notice of many fans. It is well worth seeking out. The tracks can be streamed on YouTube, and used copies are available for purchase.

Grade: A

2 responses to “Album Review: Crystal Gayle – ‘Three Good Reasons’

  1. Alan Jobe January 30, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I am thrilled that you decided to review this album. I would put this in my top five list of favorite Crystal albums. It is excellent. Anyone who ever thought that Crystal could not sing country needs to listen to these songs.

    Like Ain’t Gonna Worry, I was unaware that this album even existed until about ten years ago. And what an incredible surprise it was for me. It’s unlike any other album she’s ever released. I was not familiar with producer Buzz Stone, so I wasn’t expecting a lot. But boy, was I wrong.

    The title track sounds like something Reba would sing – a song about a woman struggling to find something or rise above something – a survivor song. It’s a great song and Crystal sings it to perfection. From what I read, the video got some nice airplay on the country video channels when it was released. However, that did not lead to very much airplay on country radio. Quite a shame because it fits perfectly with the sound that was being played on radio at that time.

    I’ve never heard Jim Croce’s version of One Less Set Of Footsteps, which I think was a good thing for me because her version of the song sounds very current and new. It’s my favorite track on the album. Why Cry and Love To, Can’t Do probably wouldn’t have done any better at radio than the title track due to the ban on older artists, but they both sound amazingly fresh.

    A Rose Between Two Thorns, like you said in your great review, is heartbreaking. A beautiful song with a very strong message. The Trouble With Me (Is You) is about as traditional as I’ve ever heard her sing and it makes you wish she had done this all through her career. 99% Of The Time is the most MOR song but it fits in nicely with the rest of the album.

    The only negative I can say about Three Good Reasons is that I don’t care for the Lily Munster look they gave her on the cover. When you look back at all the incredible photos of Crystal over the years, it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking that this an idea choice for an album cover photo. Especially since there was a strong youth movement in country, this photo makes her look a lot older than she actually was.

    I agree that had this album been released in 1988 or 1989, it would’ve continued her chart success a lot longer. But I also believe that if most people had been given the opportunity to hear anything from this album when it was released in 1992, they would’ve fallen in love with it as well. If you’ve never heard these songs and you even remotely like Crystal Gayle, I highly recommend that you pick this one up. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

  2. Ken January 30, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Don’t think that there were many folks that ever thought that Crystal could not sing (traditional) country music. After all that’s really where she started. But after more than a decade of mostly overproduced A/C material many rightly wondered if she would ever WANT to again. When she finally turned that corner musically it was too late.

    Agreed that the cover photo for this CD was an odd choice. The black & white treatment looked rather lackluster in an era when country music was being positioned as “new” & “hot” to reach wider and younger audiences. Naturally photogenic Crystal always looked great on her album covers but this one is an odd anomaly.

    The entire album has been posted to Youtube for anyone inclined to check it out. The style of many of the tunes is reminiscent of her United Artists recordings. If you liked that phase of her career you’ll enjoy hearing less strings and more steel guitar.

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