Kenny Rogers’ fourth album, Love or Something Like It, was released in July 1978. The record marked his fifth time working with Larry Butler, who would serve as his producer until 1980. This was his fourth consecutive number one album.
The album produced just one single, the title track, which Rogers co-wrote with his bandmate, Steve Glassmeyer. It’s a mid-tempo number with pleasing percussion and a nice groove. The song spent just ten weeks on the chart before cresting. Deryl Dodd subsequently covered it on Stronger Proof in 2005.
Three more of the album’s tracks were rich with alternative versions by other artists. B.J. Thomas, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones have also recorded the contemplative ballad “We Could’ve Been The Closest of Friends.” “Sail Away,” which features light touches of R&B, was originally released by Sam Neely in 1977 and again by The Oak Ridge Boys, who took it to #2, in 1979. Far too many artists have sung “Even a Fool Would Go” through the years to list them here, but the string and piano-laced ballad is probably most familiar to country fans courtesy of Charlie Rich, who released it as a single under the direction of Billy Sherill in 1977.
Another notable track, “Momma’s Waiting,” was originally recorded by Rogers with the First Edition in 1970. The intriguing ballad, which Rogers co-wrote with Terry Williams, casts him as a prison inmate saying goodbye to his mother as he’s led off to his execution. The song is both haunting and effective. “Momma’s Waiting” serves as the B-Side to “The Gambler.”
One theory as to why United Artists let Love or Something Like It die after one single is “I Could Be So Good for You,” co-written by Dennis Linde. The track was Rogers’ feeble attempt to cash in on the disco craze, with diminishing returns.
“There’s A Lot of That Going Around” is a solid ballad, with pleasing percussion. The arrangement on “Starting Again” is far more tasteful and country-leaning. The trend continues with “Buried Treasure,” which actually feels like it fits within similar uptempo country songs from the era.
“Something About Your Song” is progressive but inoffensive. The funky “Highway Flier” is a lot to handle and ranks among the weaker tracks, despite committed performances from the session musicians.
Love or Something Like It is a mixed bag with little material worth seeking out. “Momma’s Waiting” is the standout track and while others are good to very good, nothing here is remarkable or rises above the characterization of filler. It doesn’t help matters that the album, forty years in, hasn’t aged well.
Rogers is better than this, which he more than proved with the output he released (including the duets albums with Dottie West) around the time of crafting this album. I’d skip this one, except for “Momma’s Waiting,” and seek out the stronger material from his other late 1970s recordings.
I agree that “Momma’s Waiting” is an excellent song. Kenny’s original version with the First Edition was released as the B side of their pop hit “Something’s Burning.” Although it did not appear on the country charts “Momma’s Waiting” did receive airplay on many country radio stations that had programmed their two previous singles “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town” and “Reuben James.” It may have suffered from the biases of certain country radio programmers that refused to play it because Kenny and The First Edition were deemed not really “country.” The A side – a definite pop recording – did not help diminish their pop image.
“Buried Treasures” (plural) is the proper title of the song on this album. [Not to be confused with the similarly titled “Buried Treasure” that was a 1984 hit for Kenny on the RCA label] One of this album’s better tracks despite it’s extremely dark theme. First time I heard it I thought that it was what might have happened if the husband in “Lucille” went psycho.
Kenny tended to offer a lot of musical diversity on his albums. Though that appealed to much of his fan base as a core country fan I often found myself picking up the needle or fast-forwarding through at least a couple of tracks on most of his albums. That disco track sounded just as dreadful to me 40 years ago as it does now.
The reason that only one single was issued from the “Love Or Something Like It” album may have been a matter of timing as well as the strength of the remaining tracks. As mentioned in the review there was no apparent slam-dunk second hit single candidate from this LP. More significantly Kenny made a new recording in June that was believed to have huge hit potential. “The Gambler” was released as his next solo single in September. Had that song not come along at that time perhaps another track from the “Love Or Something Like It” LP might have been selected as a second single release. I disagree that United Artists “let (this album) die.” Despite having only one single release the album charted for 36 weeks, spending two weeks at #1 and was certified gold. Seems the label did the best with what they had to work with and a gold album in 1978 with no pop airplay was a pretty strong accomplishment.
Following Kenny’s hits chronologically after “Love Or Something Like It” hit #1 in early August and was descending the charts U.A. released Kenny’s second duet with Dottie West – “Anyone Who Isn’t Me Tonight.” It peaked at #2 in early November.
The title track of this album is one of my favourite Kenny Rogers songs.
I agree with your assessment of this album. A few good tracks but the rest is forgettable.