My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Ken Bell

Album Review: The Forester Sisters – ‘The Forester Sisters’

Not many realize it, but the Forester Sisters were the first all-female group (defined as three or more members) to have sustained success on Billboard’s Country Singles charts. In fact, they are still the female group boasting the most top ten singles with fifteen.

The Forester Sisters’ first foray came with the eponymous album The Forester Sisters, released in August 1985. The album opens up with the first single “(That’s What You Do) When You’re In Love” which made its chart debut on January 28,1985.The song would reach #10, the first in a string of fourteen consecutive top ten county singles, five of which reached #1. The song is a mid-tempo ballad about forgiveness, written by Terry Skinner, Ken Bell and J. L. Wallace.

Well, the door’s unlocked and the lights still on
And the covers turned down on the bed
And you don’t have to say that you’re sorry anymore
‘Cause honey I believe what you said
If there’s anybody perfect, well, I ain’t seem ’em yet
And we all gotta learn to forgive and forget
That’s what you do when you’re in love, in love
That’s what you do when you’re in love

Next up is “I Fell In Love Again Last Night” , a mid-tempo ballad from the pens of Paul Overstreet and Thom Schuyler. This song was the second single off the album and the group’s first #1 record.

I fell in love again last night
You keep doing everything just right
You’ve got me wrapped around your fingers
And every morning the love still lingers
I fell in love again last night

“Just in Case”, written by J.P. Pennington & Sonny LeMaire of Exile, first saw the light of day on Exile’s 1984 Kentucky Hearts album. An up-tempo ballad, The Forester Sisters released it as their third single and saw it sail to #1:

I saw you walkin’ down the street just the other day
Took one little look at me and turned the other way
Can’t say I blame you but I’d like for you to know
How wrong I was to ever let you go

Just in case, you ever change your mind
If you suddenly decide to give me one more try
I’ll be waiting in the wings, just lookin’ for a sign
Just in case you change your mind

“Reckless Night” by Alice Randall & Mark D. Sanders is a slow ballad about a single mother – the baby the result of a reckless night.

“Dixie Man” by Bell, Skinner & Wallace) is an up-tempo tune with an R&B vibe to it. The song might have made a decent single but with four singles on the album, the group had pushed the limits of the time.

Next up is “Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes” by Skinner & Wallace, the fourth single from the album and third consecutive #1 record. The song is a mid-tempo ballad and the song that immediately comes to my mind when anyone mentions the Forster Sisters to me.

Mama says I shouldn’t be going with you
Mama says she knows best
You’ll take my heart and break it in two
‘Cause you’re just like all the rest
She says that you’re just a one night man
And you’ll end up hurting me
Aw But I’ve seen something that mama ain’t ever seen

Mama’s never looked into those eyes, felt the way that they hypnotize
She don’t know how they make me feel inside
If Mama ever knew what they do to me I think she’d be surprised
Aw Mama’s never seen those eyes
Mama’s never seen those eyes

“The Missing Part” was written by Paul Overstreet & Don Schlitz and covers a topic that the sisters would revisit from a different slant on a later single. This song is a slow ballad.

“Something Tells Me” from the pens of Chris Waters & Tom Shapiro) is a mid-tempo cautionary ballad about rushing into a relationship

The next track is “Crazy Heart” written by Rick Giles & Steve Bogard. The song is a mid-tempo ballad that I regard as nothing more than album filler, albeit well sung.

The album closes with Bobby Keel & Billy Stone’s composition “Yankee Don’t Go Home”, a slow ballad about a southern girl who has lost her heart to a fellow from up north. Judging to feedback from friends who have heard this song this might have made a decent single

The Forester Sisters would prove to be the group’s most successful album, reaching #4 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. In fact the album would prove to be their only top ten album, although another seven albums would chart. The album has traditional country lyrics and vocals although the accompaniment has that 80s sound in places, particularly when it comes to the keyboards. The musicians on this album are Kenny Bell – acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Sonny Garrish – steel guitar; Owen Hale – drums; Hubert “Hoot” Hester – fiddle, mandolin; Lonnie “Butch” Ledford – bass guitar; Will McFarlane – acoustic guitar; Steve Nathan – keyboards;J. L. Wallace – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards; and John Willis – acoustic guitar. Terry Skinner and J.L. Wallace produced the album and co=wrote two of the singles.

I should note that my copy of the album is on vinyl so the sequence of the songs may vary on other formats. Anyway, I would give this album an A-

Album Review: Randy Travis – ‘Old 8 x 10’

Following up Always & Forever, which enjoyed at 43 week run at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Ablums chart and sold more than 5 million copies, must have seemed like a daunting task. 1988’s Old 8 x 10 was Randy Travis’ attempt to recreate the magic, and though it is an enjoyable album, it is slightly uneven and just misses the mark of equaling its predecessor’s artistic and commercial success.

Like Always & Forever, Old 8 x 10 was produced by Kyle Lehning and spawned four singles. Three of them reached the #1 spot. First up was the laid-back “Honky Tonk Moon”, written by Dennis O’Rourke, on which Travis sounds relaxed and at ease. Following “Honky Tonk Moon” to the top of the charts was the slightly fluffy “Deeper Than The Holler” by Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet. Unfortunately, this is one of the team’s weaker compositions, which can’t hold its own against their other classics such as “On The Other Hand” and “Forever and Ever, Amen”. Better is the whimsical “Is It Still Over”, which was the third single and my favorite song on the album. The Ken Bell and Larry Hendley tune became Randy’s seventh consecutive #1 hit, and his ninth #1 overall.

Up to this point, beginning with the re-release of “On The Other Hand”, all of Randy’s singles had reached #1 with the exception of “There’s No Place Like Home”, which peaked at #2. This winning streak was interrupted by “Promises”, which Randy wrote with John Lindley. Featuring only Randy’s voice and a single acoustic guitar, it reached #17 in early 1989. Some saw it as the beginning of the end of Randy’s reign at the top of the charts (wrongly, as it turned out), but in actuality, records like this one have always been a hard sell with radio, and the fact that it was played at all is a testament to the tremendous star power Randy wielded at the time. I found it somewhat dull at the time and was amazed at one critic in particular who referred to it as the best single release of Travis’ career up to that point. It is only in the past few years that I can truly appreciate this understated work of art for the masterpiece that it is. I’m still not sure that I consider it his very best performance, but it’s close and it stands as a textbook example of why quality can’t be assessed by chart performance alone.

Among the album cuts are a few gems, such as “The Blues In Black and White” and the excellent “We Ain’t Out Of Love Yet” which should have been released as a single. But unlike Randy’s first two albums, Old 8 x 10 includes a few missteps, such as “Written In Stone” and the title track, which is particularly weak in comparison to the rest of the album’s material.

Old 8 x 10 sold 2 million units, less than either Storms of Life or Always & Forever. However, in the pre-Garth and pre-Soundscan era, sales of 5 million units were virtually unheard of in country music, so it probably wasn’t realistic to expect Travis to maintain that level of success. The album’s double-platinum success was more than respectable, and it still holds up today as one of the stronger album’s in Randy’s catalog. It appears to be out of print in CD form but it can be purchased at a slight premium from third-party sellers at Amazon, or downloaded from Amazon or iTunes.

Grade: A-