My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘The Pride Of Country Music’

Charley Pride’s second album was released in June 1967, and was the record which broke him through into stardom. There were two top 10 singles, both of which were written by Charley’s producer Cowboy Jack Clement and became instant classics. ‘Just Between You And Me’, the breakthrough hit, which peaked at #9, is an excellent song about a broken heart. Perhaps better known today thanks to the Garth Brooks cover, is the ultra-traditional ‘I Know One’, which reached #6. The song is almost perfect in its simplicity.

Another Clement tune, ‘Spell Of The Freight Train’, is a pleasant song about a rambler who doesn’t want to settle down, with some nice harmonica. The endearing ‘Best Banjo Picker’, about an aspiring musician, features some great banjo (some deliberately faltering to illustrate the song), played by bluegrass great Sonny Osborne who also gets a name drop.

‘Take Me Home’, written in slightly tongue in cheek fashion by Clement with Allen Reynolds, is about a wanderer’s rather more rueful longing to return home:

Well, I’ve slept all night in a water trough
Had the flu and the croup and the whoopin’ cough
Had the mumps and the measles and the seven year itch
And I can’t count the times that I’ve had a cold (and sore throat)
Not to mention all the times that I cut my fingers on a sardine can

Take me home
My heart is heavy and my feet are sore
Take me home
I don’t want to roam no more

It had also been recorded by Johnny Cash and Bobby Bare.

As was customary at this date, Charley included a selection of recent and older covers, which make for enjoyable listening but cannot be described as essential. The delightful mandolin-led ‘A Good Woman’s Love’ was first recorded by Hank Locklin in 1955 but has also become a bluegrass standard following Bill Monroe’s recording. The mandolin is played by Bobby Osborne, brother of Sonny. There is a slow, emotional version of the Johnny Paycheck-penned ‘Apartment #9’, which was Tammy Wynette’s debut hit. ‘Touch My Heart’ is a broken hearted ballad which had been a big hit for Ray Price in 1966.

Tom Paxton’s contemporary folk classic ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ was a popular choice of cover for country artists in the 60s, and Charley’s version is nice but forgettable set next to Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s hit version same out the same year. ‘The Middle Of Nowhere’ also has a somewhat folky feel, with its melancholy tale of a return to a childhood home where the narrator is now a stranger out of place.

‘I‘m Not The Boy I Used To Be’, written by Curly Putman, is a shamefaced confession from an ex-con on his way home:

You see, mama,
I’ve spent time in prison
For a crime that I’m too ashamed to tell
And when you meet me there tomorrow
Don’t be surprised at what you see
Cause mama I’m not the boy I used to be

For I’ve been gone away too long
And I’ve done everything that’s wrong
But I think I’ve finally found myself at last
And just you wait and see
Another chance is all I need
But mama I’m not the boy I used to be

Charley is a little too clean cut to completely sell the part of the guiltridden sinner. ‘Silence’, written by Margie Singleton and Leon Ashley, is a steel laced ballad about loneliness and missing an ex.

The music on this record stands up pretty well today, although it is the singles which have endured the best. The Nashville Sound trappings of the arrangements do not overwhelm what is essentially solid country music from one of the great country singers. You can find it on a joint CD with three other early Pride albums.

Grade: A-

2 responses to “Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘The Pride Of Country Music’

  1. Paul W Dennis July 8, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Charley opened his 1969 album LIVE AT PANTHER HALL with “The Last Thing On My Mind” taken at about the same tempo as Porter & Dolly’s version, and is probably better remembered than the placid version on this album. That version stands up nicely to Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s recording .

  2. Ken July 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    For Charley Pride fans like me that loved “Just Between You And Me” we had to wait until the song was completely off the charts until it was available on an album in mid-1967. By that time Charley’s follow up single “I Know One” was closing in on the top ten. It was well worth waiting for as Hope pointed out in her review.

    Like Charley’s first album the production team of Chet Atkins, Jack Clement and Bob Ferguson again did a great job of finding songs to suit Charley’s style and created excellent musical arrangements. Clement actually did most of the production duties while recording engineer Jim Malloy really brought out the resonance of Charley’s superb voice that is especially evident on both of the single hits. During that time period songs recorded at the RCA Nashville Studios were some of the best you’ll ever hear – full & rich with a perfect balance between Charley’s voice, the background singers and the backing track. Top notch musicians like Lloyd Green on steel guitar brought their A game to the sessions. Considering these tracks are now 50+ years old they still sound clean and vibrant to me.

    “I Know One” was my favorite track. I loved the way Charley dropped his voice to hit the low notes. At that time I was unaware that the song had been a hit seven years earlier for one of Charley’s musical heroes Jim Reeves. Released as the B side of Jim’s 1960 single “I’m Gettin’ Better” it rose to #6 on the country chart in August of that year. But initially that track was never included on a Jim Reeves album or hits compilation nor released later on an RCA Gold Standard 45 where many of Jim’s biggest hits had been reissued (mostly for jukebox play) That song was finally issued on a 1965 Jim Reeves album but by that time had been mostly forgotten by country radio stations that were unable to play it unless they had the original 1960 RCA single. As a result even though Charley’s version was technically a remake the song was considered brand new by many country fans that had recently discovered the format.

    The liner notes for this album were composed by Waylon Jennings another newcomer to the RCA roster. Waylon gave Charley his endorsement under the headline “Charley’s Day Is Here.” That seems quite accurate given that this album is where Charley’s hits began.

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