My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Kenny O’Dell

Album Review: Johnny Paycheck – ‘Somebody Loves Me’

The only single, the title track, just failed to get into the top 20. It was written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice. It’s a decent if not terribly memorable sunny love song given a committed performance by Paycheck, but the production and backing vocals from the Nashville Edition are quite dated and it doesn’t really play to Paycheck’s strengths.

A further three Foster & Rice songs make their appearance here. ‘Spread It Around’ is upbeat and enjoyable with perky harmonica. ‘It Takes A Woman’s Love’ is a soulful ballad which is quite good. ‘Without You (There’s No Such Thing As Love)’ is the best of the four, a sad traditional country ballad which lets Paycheck exercise his intensity of heartbreak backed up by some lovely Buddy Spicher fiddle.

Paycheck himself wrote three of the songs. ‘Loving An Angel Every Day’ is pleasant and well sung but lyrically bland. ‘Love Couldn’t Be Any Better’ is quite perky. The best of the three, ‘Kissing Yesterday Goodbye’, is a sad country ballad about trying to forget someone and move on:

Memory I don’t know why you
Keep holdin’ on the way you do…
We should kiss yesterday goodbye
And all the heartaches too
‘Cause we both know there wasn’t one time that she tried
We waste our time kissin’ pictures
And holdin’ pillows every night
We should be kissing yesterday goodbye

‘I Take It On Home’ is a Kenny O’Dell penned song which was a current hit single for Charlie Rich. Paycheck’s cover is sultry and effective. ‘Woman Loves Me Right’ (also recorded by George Jones), and Paycheck puts in a solid performance.

There are a couple of covers of songs by pop singer/songwriter Neil Diamond. The delicate piano ballad ‘Song Sung Blue’ (a #1 pop hit for Diamond in 1972) is performed very well in AC style, but is not typical of Paycheck’s work. The lesser known Life Can Be Beautiful’ is quite a pleasant but lyrically bland piece of cheery cod-philosophy which Paycheck does his best to invest with a little of his personality.

Billy Sherrill’s production is a little too Nashville Sound to really suit Paycheck.

It is now available on a 2-4-1 CD with Someone To Give My Love To. It isn’t one of Paycheck’s better albums, and I would probably skip it unless you are a completist, but it isn’t bad on its own merits.

Grade: C+

Favorite country songs of the 1970s: Part 5

For part five of this series, as always, just some songs I liked, one song per artist, not necessarily the biggest hit, (although I feel free to comment on other songs by the artist).

Let’s All Go Down To The River” – Jody Miller & Johnny Paycheck (1972)

A nice country cover of an old gospel song – how could you go wrong with this duo? Jody Miller would have a number of hits during the 1970s, although her single biggest record was in 1965 when “Queen of The House” (an answer song to Roger Miller’s “King of The Road”) went #12 pop / #5 country. I don’t know that Jody viewed herself as a country singer, but she had a sassy & sexy voice and was quite easy on the eyes.

Tom Green County Fair” – Roger Miller (1970)

Roger Miller’s career had largely run out of steam by this time, but the imagery in this song makes it one of my favorites. Alas, this song only reached #38. Roger would experience a significant renaissance in the mid-1980s writing the music for the Broadway play Big River.

Music Box Dancer” – Frank Mills (1979)

I have no idea why this song charted country as Frank Mills was an orchestra leader and this instrumental song was no more country than Lady Gaga. It was a huge pop hit reaching #3 and selling millions in the process.

Pure Love” – Ronnie Milsap (1974)

Written by Eddie Rabbitt, this was Ronnie’s first #1. How can you not like a song that contains a line like “Milk and honey and Captain Krunch and you in the morning?”

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Album Review: The Judds – ‘Wynonna and Naomi’ & ‘Why Not Me’

The Judds’ first appearance on record was the 1983 mini-LP Wynonna and Naomi.  Initially released only on vinyl and cassette, it consisted of six tracks, most of which eventually appeared on subsequent albums.  “Had a Dream (For the Heart)”, a Dennis Linde composition previously recorded by Elvis Presley, was the duo’s debut single, which peaked at #17 in late 1983.  But it was the second single, “Mama He’s Crazy”, released in the spring of 1984, which made it to #1 and jump-started their career.  The Kenny O’Dell composition was the first of eight consecutive #1 singles for The Judds.  It was also one of the first hit records of the New Traditionalists era, which wouldn’t get fully underway for another two years.

Initially, “Had a Dream” and “Mama He’s Crazy” were the only two singles released from the mini-LP, but an alternate take of “Change of Heart”, written by Naomi Judd, was included in their 1988 Greatest Hits package and released as a single, reaching #1 .   Likewise, “John Deere Tractor” was included as a bonus track on the CD version of 1990’s Love Can Build a Bridge, and was released as the duo’s final single before Naomi’s retirement in 1991.

Two songs on the disc never appeared elsewhere: “Isn’t He a Strange One” written by Kent Robbins, and “Blue Nun Café”, a excellent number written by Harlan Howard and Brent Maher, who produced all of The Judds’ albums.   Wynonna and Naomi eventually received a budget CD release in the 1990s; that version contained two bonus tracks, “Cry Myself To Sleep” and “Dream Chaser”, both culled from their 1985 collection Rockin’ With the Rhythm. Read more of this post

Classic Rewind: Charlie Rich – ‘Behind Closed Doors’

Charlie Rich earned his first #1 hit with this Kenny O’Dell-penned tune.  Likewise, Rich earned his first Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance while the writer took home CMA and ACM trophies for Song of the Year in 1973.   In addition to hitting the top of the Country Singles chart, “Behind Closed Doors” would find a home inside the top 10 of the Adult Contemporary lists, hit the U.S. Top 40 (at #15) and go on to become an international hit in at least five more nations.  Here’s Rich performing his signature song at the 7th annual CMA show.

Grammy Rewind: Charlie Rich – ‘Behind Closed Doors’

‘Behind Closed Doors’ was a hit for Charlie Rich in the Spring of 1973.  Songwriter Kenny O’Dell was awarded the CMA and ACM Awards for Song of the Year.  In addition, Rich won the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and #1 hit was named Best Country Song at the 1973 show.

Single Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Lizzie and the Rainman’

TanyaTuckerTanyaTuckerThe extraordinary run of success enjoyed by the teenage Tanya Tucker is illustrated by the fact that she was still only 16 when she recorded the story song ‘Lizzie and the Rainman’. It was her fourth #1 hit, and her first single for a new record label, MCA.

As so often with Tanya’s choice of material, the story had controversial elements, as it deals with a traveling “rainman”, who claims that in return for some cold hard cash, he can magic up some rain for the desperate inhabitants of a drought-stricken rural west Texas town. Lizzie Cooper is the one resident who is prepared to challenge his claims.

The song was written by two very accomplished Nashville songwriters: Kenny O’Dell, composer of the classic ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (and later writer of ‘Mama He’s Crazy’ for the Judds), and Larry Henley, who came from a pop background but had written ‘Til I Get It Right’ for Tammy Wynette, and is best known today for his much-recorded ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’. ‘Lizzie and the Rainman’ is rather different, being a good old-fashioned story song with a dramatic lyric, which is one of the most interesting songs Tanya has ever recorded. It is one of those songs which feels as though it was made for Tanya to sing. It was covered in the 90s by Alison Krauss-produced bluegrass group the Cox Family, but their version sounds just a little too pretty to have the force of the original. Tanya’s earthy vocal feels just right for the story, and renders it completely believable. The production starts low-key, but builds through the song with some subtle sound effects at the end.

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