My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: John Conlee – ‘In My Eyes’

Released in 1983, In My Eyes, Conlee’s sixth album, would prove to be John’s most successful album, reaching #9 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, The album would feature three #1 singles in “I’m Only In It for the Love”, “In My Eyes” and “As Long As I’m Rockin’ With You” , as well as a fourth single “Way Back” that reached #4.

The album opens up with “I’m Only in It for the Love”, a song written by Kix Brooks, Deborah Allen and Rafe Van Hoy, The song was released in June 1983 as the first single and proved to be John’s fourth number one on the country chart. The song is up-tempo and upbeat,

I want you to know you got my full attention
And every move is with my best intention
Before we go on, I thought I ought to mention
I’m only in it for the love

I’m only in it for the love and affection
I think I’m heading in the right direction
I guess the question that I’m really asking
Is do you want a love that’s everlasting?

Next up is a love song, the somewhat pensive “As Long As I’m Rockin’ With You”. This song was the third single from the album. The song was written by Bruce ‘Hey ! Baby’ Channel and Kieran Kane.

Wherever I’m goin’, wherever I’m stayin’
It doesn’t matter, long as I’m stayin’ with you, stayin’ with you
I’m always happy, whatever I’m doin’
It doesn’t matter, long as I do it with you, do it with you

I may never have much silver and gold
But, I’ve got something more precious and warmer to hold
And that old rockin’ chair don’t scare me, like it used to
It doesn’t matter, as long as I’m rockin’ with you

“Together Alone” is filler about a marriage that seems to be unraveling, but nicely sung by John.

It wasn’t like Conway Twitty to miss a hit, but Conley pulled “In My Eyes” from Conway’s 1982 Dream Maker album. It is a really nice ballad:

She just a woman a hundred pounds of flesh and blood
Quick with a smile warm with a touch for me
she’s just a woman and not the least or the most desired
But she’s set one man’s heart of fire and it’s me that she wants to please

And in my eyes god never made a more beautiful girl
In my eyes there’s no one more lovely in all of the world
And she looks at me at times with such surprise
When she sees how special she is in my eyes

“Waitin’ For The Sun To Shine” was the title track of Ricky Skaggs’ 1981 album for Epic. The song was written by Sonny Throckmorton and while Ricky did not release it as a single, the song received quite a bit of airplay. Ricky’s version is better but John acquits himself well on the song:

I been standing underneath this dark old cloud
Waiting for the sun to shine
Waiting for the sun to shine in my heart again

I been throwing a lot of good love away
Waiting for the sun to shine
Waiting for the sun to shine in my heart again

Oh, I’m just waiting for the sun to shine
I’m just waiting for the sun to shine
I know it will be sometime
But I’m just waiting for the sun to shine

“Lay Down Sally” is an Eric Clapton song that has been covered by numerous pop and country artists . Conley’s version is a nice change of pace for the album.

“Way Back” was the fourth single pulled from the album – it reached #4 but perhaps could have done better with a little different arrangement. The song is a nostalgic look back at a relationship that has changed over time, and not for the better.

“New Way Out” was a Randy Sharp tune that was a single for Karen Brooks in 1982. The song would prove to be her biggest hit, reaching #17. It is a good song and John does a credible job of covering it.

I know how hard she’ll take it
When she finds out I can’t stay
So I don’t want to have to tell her
If there’s any other way.

Is there any new way out?
Where hearts are never broken
(Is there any new way out)
Where no one’s ever hurt in anger
(Is there any new way out?)
And harsh words are never spoken
(Is there any new way out?)

“Don’t Count The Rainy Days” is a song more associated with Michael Martin Murphey, who released the song in August 1983 and had a top ten hit with it.

The album closes with Mickey Newberry’s “American Trilogy”, today used as patriotic flag-waver, but far less over-exposed at the time this album was issued. John’s version is perhaps my favorite of all the versions I’ve heard.

As time went on John Conlee’s sound became more solidly country. This is a very good album which I would give an A.

4 responses to “Album Review: John Conlee – ‘In My Eyes’

  1. Trey March 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Anyone know why many of John’s albums are not available in a digital format?

    Busted, With Love, etc.

    • Ken March 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Two basic reasons.

      Universal Music Group (they now own the MCA label) and the other major corporate music conglomerates have shown marginal interest in reissuing 20th century country music. As the CD era came & went thousands of albums were overlooked for reissue. Those corporate giants focused primarily on titles and artists that generated the biggest sales. Those included mostly pop/rock acts and a just handful of the biggest country performers. That’s why MCA reissued most of George Strait and Reba McEntire’s early albums while John Conlee’s catalog was mostly untouched. Even huge Decca & MCA acts like Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Don Williams & Barbara Mandrell were mostly ignored save for a few compilations.

      A contributing factor could be the 2008 fire at Universal Studios in Los Angeles that destroyed the tape vault. To date there has never been an accurate public accounting of what was lost but it appears to be far more than the company admitted. Thousands of master tapes were incinerated and it may have included pre-CD MCA albums from the 1980’s..It is clear that the Decca, Coral, Kapp & Dot master tapes are toast.

      In any case now that digital music downloads have become pervasive it’s possible that albums overlooked for CD release may eventually become available. Because physical production of CD’s, packaging & distribution to retail outlets is not required it may now be cost-effective to offer more catalog material. Sony has re-released quite a few non-CD titles as downloads in the past couple of years so perhaps UMG may begin to mine their vaults as well.
      That is if the UMG master tapes were not destroyed forever.

  2. Michael A. March 19, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Interesting history, Ken. Thanks for that. I’ve been waiting for 7 of the 8 albums that Tanya Tucker recorded for MCA to be released and I wonder if that’s why they have not been.

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