My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: The Whites – ‘Old Familiar Feeling’

old-familiar-feelingSadly, far too little of the Whites’ music is available digitally, including most of their most commercially successful work. This album, originally released in 1983, has somehow found its way onto iTunes – it would be good if its successors were to follow it. In many respects it was their debut as The Whites, since previous music had been billed as Buck White, mostly with The Down Home Folks. Following Buck’s daughter Sharon’s 1981 marriage to rising superstar Ricky Skaggs, the band (now consisting of Buck with daughters Sharon and Cheryl) was signed to Curb/Warner Brothers, and the album (which Skaggs produced) was released in June 1983.

Half of the album’s ten tracks ended up as singles, as the label was trying to break a group whose old-time traditional roots flew in the face of the then popular Urban Cowboy sound. An initial single, a cover of the classic ‘Send Me The Pillow You Dream On’ did not do well, and was never included on an album, but the next attempt, the lovely ‘You Put The Blue In Me’ was a top 10 country hit in 1982. Sharon White’s honeyed voice is backed up by the group’s gentle harmonies on this pretty but sad song.

The more upbeat ‘Hangin’ Around’ and ‘I Wonder Who’s Holding My Baby Tonight’ (a beautiful ballad) both reached #9, also featuring Sharon’s lead vocals. Like many groups who have multiple lead singers, one of them is clearly superior to the others, and in the case of the Whites, it was Sharon, who sang lead on all the singles from this album. ‘When The New Wears Off Of Our Love’, written by Paul Craft, was less successful, peaking at only #25, but it is a pretty tune. The final single, and almost-title track, the slow and wistful ‘Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling’ took them back to the top 10.

Sister Cheryl took the lead on the upbeat gospel ‘Follow The Leader’ and the gentle romantic ballad ‘I’ll be Loving You’. While she lacks Sharon’s lovely natural tone, she is nonetheless a fine singer.

Buck takes over on the retro ‘Blue Letters’, with the trio harmonising together on the chorus. Son law Ricky Skaggs can also be heard in the harmonies on ‘Old River’. Buck also sings the blues authentically, on the old Moon Mullican tune ‘Pipe Liner Blues’.

Ricky Skaggs produced the set beautifully with clean, sparkling arrangements allowing the vocals to shine. The musicians include the great Jerry Douglas.

This is a charming album which I warmly recommend.

Grade: A

After this album, Curb moved the Whites to an affiliation with MCA, and regrettably none of the albums they made for that label is commercially available today apart from their Greatest Hits, which I would also recommend.

4 responses to “Album Review: The Whites – ‘Old Familiar Feeling’

  1. Razor X February 6, 2017 at 9:49 am

    The Whites had a very short shelf life as a mainstream act. They were ahead of the curve in leading the genre back to a more traditional sound. It’s surprising that they didn’t fare better commercially during the latter part of the 80s when the New Traditionalist movement was in full force.

  2. Paul W Dennis February 6, 2017 at 10:54 am

    “When The New Wears Off Of Our Love” had reached #25 for Jody Miller in 1976, although it did really well in some markets. Another traditional group, the Kendalls, also failed to benefit by the New Traditionalist movement and that will forever baffle me

    • Razor X February 6, 2017 at 11:29 am

      I think that is partially because The Kendalls had been around for a while and when the New Traditionalist movement started, radio was mainly interested in new artists, not those who had been around for a while and had always stuck with the traditional style. The Whites were still “new” enough to the mainstream, though and should have enjoyed a few more years of success.

  3. Ken February 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Enjoyed your review of this great album. When the Whites’ first two singles arrived at country radio in 1982 it was like a breath of fresh air. Their beautiful harmonies was the centerpiece of their sound surrounded by cleanly produced acoustic arrangements that featured the superb dobro licks of Jerry Douglas. I loved “You Put The Blue In Me” the first time that I heard it. My favorite track is “I Wonder Who’s Holding My Baby Tonight” as it sounded like a country standard that could have been created a few decades earlier. The Whites likely did not realize it at the time but the trio was on the cutting edge of what would become the New Traditionalist movement within a few years.

    To clarify their record label affiliations the Whites began with a brief deal with Capitol Records that resulted in their first charted record “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On.” That single peaked at #66 in mid-1981 but no other recordings were released for that imprint. In 1982 they signed to the Elektra/Curb label. After two singles [“You Put The Blue In Me” and “Hangin’ Around”] Elektra was folded into Warner Brothers when their Nashville offices merged under Jimmy Bowen in early 1983. Subsequent singles and their debut album was released on the Warner/Curb label. The Whites moved to MCA/Curb in 1984. Curb was the primary label so when a greatest hits album was assembled in 1986 it included their original Elektra/Curb and Warner/Curb hits along with their recent MCA/Curb singles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: