My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Mike Clute

Album Review: Diamond Rio – ‘One More Day’

Diamond Rio’s sixth studio album was released nearly three full years after Unbelievable had dropped at retail stores. To bridge the gap between the projects, the lead single “Stuff” was released in 2000. Admittedly not one of their better efforts, “Stuff” was planned to be the title track of the band’s forthcoming album. Stalling at #36 on the charts, its relative failure came on the heels of another under-performing single, 1999’s “I Know How The River Feels” which topped out at #33. As a result, the planned album was retooled somewhat, which possibly explains the lengthy period between albums.

The band’s next radio effort, “One More Day” did much better. Released in October 2000, it gained in popularity following the February 2001 death of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, and eventually reached #1. Later that year, the wistful, bittersweet tune which is my all-time favorite Diamond Rio song, enjoyed a resurgence in popularity following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It was the band’s first #1 since 1997’s “How Your Love Makes Me Feel”, and as a result of its success, “One More Day” supplanted “Stuff” as the title track of the new album.

One More Day was finally released in June 2001. The band shared production duties with Mike Clute, as they had done for their past few albums. The result was a somewhat more contemporary song selection, as well as more prominent harmony vocals, which are used to great effect on “The Love Of A Woman” and the excellent bluegrass-flavored “Hearts Against The Wind”. The latter is my favorite cut on the album after the title track. Also noteworthy is “I’m Trying”, (not to be confused with the Trace Adkins song of the same title), on which the guys are joined by Chely Wright.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album is mostly generic and forgettable. The Skip Ewing and Bob DiPiero-penned “You Make Me Feel” is particularly disappointing. Skip Ewing is one of my favorite songwriters but this certainly qualifies as one of his poorer efforts. “Sweet Summer”, which was the follow-up single to “One More Day” is badly marred by an introduction featuring a young child singing an off-key rendition of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma!, which was thankfully omitted from the radio edit.

The success of the title track notwithstanding, One More Day marks the beginning of Diamond Rio’s commercial decline. “Sweet Summer” failed to capitalize on the title track’s success, peaking at #18, while the energetic but fluffy “That’s Just That” became the first Diamond Rio single to fail to crack the Top 40, leveling off at #42. Though the band would go on to enjoy two more #1s from their next album, they would never again crack the Top 10 after that. One More Day did reach #5 on the album chart, making it Diamond Rio’s highest charting entry on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart up to that time. It failed to reach platinum-level sales, but it did earn gold certification, as both IV and Unbelievable had done. Though it is a somewhat uneven collection, it is worth buying, if only for the track “I’m Trying” which is not available for individual download.

Grade: B

Inexpensive copies can be purchased from Amazon.

Album Review: Diamond Rio – ‘Love A Little Stronger’

The success of Diamond Rio’s first album caused the band to return to the studio to record the follow-up a little sooner than they would have liked. By their own admission, Close To The Edge was a somewhat rushed affair, though I thought it was an enjoyable album. It achieved gold status, but that was considered somewhat of a failure in the early 90s, especially after following a platinum debut. As a result, the band took more time in recording their third album, Love A Little Stronger, which was released in July 1994, nearly two years after Close To The Edge’s release.

Love A Little Stronger was produced by Tim DuBois and Monty Powell, as Diamond Rio’s first two albums had been. This time, however, they were joined by another co-producer, Mike Clute. The title track was the first single released, and it was also the album’s biggest hit, peaking at #2. It was the band’s first trip into the Top 10 since the previous year’s “Oh Me, Oh My Sweet Baby” topped out at #5. Written by Chuck Jones, Billy Crittenden and Gregory Swint, “Love A Little Stronger” has a slightly more polished sound than the band’s previous work. The second single, a cover of Dennis Linde’s “Night Is Falling In My Heart” — one of my favorite Diamond Rio songs — also has some glossy production but it also allows the band to show off their impressive harmony skills. It reached #9 on the Billboard country singles chart.

Love A Little Stronger followed Close To The Edge’s pattern of producing two top ten hits followed by two lower-charting singles. “Bubba Hyde”, a somewhat hokey semi-novelty song about a straight-laced guy who undergoes a personality transformation on Friday nights, only made it to #16, while the excellent “Finish What We Started”, written by producer Monty Powell with Mike Noble, stalled out at #19. This one definitely deserved to chart higher.

The collection also includes some very good album cuts, such as “Into The Wild Blue Yonder”, which I would have released as a single in lieu of “Bubba Hyde”. “Into The Wild Blue Yonder” seems tailor-made for radio, but was perhaps overlooked because it was felt that radio would be more receptive to a more uptempo tune. “Gone Out Of My Mind” is one of those songs that has been recorded a number of times without ever becoming a big hit. It had previously been included as an album cut on Steve Wariner’s 1989 album I Am Ready. I still consider Doug Stone’s 1998 rendition to be the definitive version, but Diamond Rio’s take is quite good as well. “Appalachian Dream” follows the precedent established by Diamond Rio’s previous two albums, of including one instrumental track to allow the band to show off their picking skills. The album closes with the somewhat somber but quite enjoyable “Kentucky Mine”.

I’ve always been a casual Diamond Rio fan, and didn’t pay much attention to the band in the 90s, aside from what I heard from them on the radio. But as is often the case, the radio hits don’t tell the whole story. Love A Little Stronger is a solid collection, with no weak tracks aside from “Bubba Hyde”. Like the band’s eponymous debut album, it reached #13 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and earned platinum certification. It is still easy to find from vendors such as Amazon at reasonable prices.

Grade: A-