My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Olivia Newton-John

Album Review: Lisa McHugh – ‘Wildfire’

Unlike Robert Mizzell, with whom I had some familiarity, Lisa McHugh was totally unknown to me. Wildfire is her third studio album, released in September 2015 on the Sharpe label. Because my purchase was via digital download, the album came with no information beyond the song titles and timings.

Like most country albums from outside the USA, there are a large number of covers of US hits, but why not? Many of the songs are new to their target audiences and those that aren’t new are crowd favorites.

I am surprised that neither of the two earlier reviews mentioned how similar in tone and timbre Ms. McHugh’s voice is to Dolly Parton, especially on certain songs. Obviously, Lisa does not have Dolly’s East Tennessee accent.

The album opens with “Mean”, a Taylor Swift composition. McHugh’s version has a very bluegrass feel to it with banjo and fiddle dominating the mix with some mandolin thrown in. McHugh is very much a superior vocalist to Swift, so I actually enjoyed the song.

Someday I’ll be living in a big old city
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

“Bring On the Good Times” is an upbeat, uptempo song with a sing-along quality to it. I’m not entirely sure about the instrumentation but there are portions with either a subdued brass section, or else synthesizers mimicking brass. This song has a 1990s country feel to it, and appears to have become a line dancing favorite.

Next up is “Never Alone”, a piano oriented slow ballad that is a cover of a 2007 Jim Brickman single that featured Lady Antebellum:

May your tears come from laughing
You find friends worth having
With every year passing
They mean more than gold
May you win but stay humble
Smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble
You’re never alone

“57′ Chevrolet” is one of the better known songs of the late great Billie Jo Spears, an artist who was underappreciated in her native USA but was venerated in the UK and Ireland. This is a very nice update of Billie Jo’s 1978 classic, a song numerous Irish artists have covered.

Come and look at this old faded photograph.
Honey, tell me what it brings to mind.
It’s a picture of that ’57 Chevrolet.
I wish that we could ride it one more time.

I still get excited when I think about,
The drive-in picture shows you took me to.
But I don’t recall a lot about the movie stars:
Mostly that old Chevrolet and you

[chorus]
They don’t make cars like they used to.
I wish we still had it today.
The love we first tasted,
The good love we’re still living:

We owe it to that old ’57 Chevrolet.
Remember when we used to park it in the lane,
And listen to the country radio?
We’d hold on to each other while the singer sang,
And we’d stay like that ’til it was time to go

“Wrong Night” was written by Josh Leo and Rick Bowles and was a 1999 single for Reba McEntire. The song reached #6 for Reba:

Suddenly I heard love songs.
Playing real soft on the jukebox.
Somebody ordered up moonlight.
And painted stars all across the sky.
Is it gravity or destiny.
Either way there’s nothing I can do.
Looks like I picked the wrong night.
Not to fall in love with you.

Lisa’s vocal resemblance to Dolly is very pronounced on both “Wrong Night” and the next song “Blue Smoke”, a Dolly Parton song from 2012. This song is given the full bluegrass treatment. I very much like this track.

Blue smoke climbin’ up the mountain
Blue smoke windin’ round the bend
Blue smoke is the name of the heartbreak train
That I am ridin’ in

“Dance With the One” was written by Sam Hogin and Gretchen Peters and featured on Shania Twain’s first major label release for Mercury back in 1993 (before Mutt Lange). When I first heard the song, I thought it would be Shania’s breakthrough song – it wasn’t topping out at #55. Lisa does a nice job with the song.

Well he shines like a penny in a little kid’s hand
When he’s out on a Saturday night
He’s a real go-getter and the best two-stepper you’ll see
But when I’m sittin’ alone at a table for two
Cause he’s already out on the floor
I think about somethin’ that my mama used to say to me

You got to dance with the one that brought you
Stay with the one that want’s you
The one who’s gonna love you when all of the others go home
Don’t let the green grass fool you
Don’t let the moon get to you
Dance with the one that brought you and you can’t go wrong

“Favourite Boyfriend of the Year” comes from the song-bag of the McClymonts, a very attractive Australian sister trio. The McClymont version was a little sassier than McHugh’s version, but she does a fine job with this up-tempo romp. I would have liked Lisa’s voice to be a little more up front in the mix. Again, this sounds like 1990s country to my ears.

I’m a little fussy
But I got a little lucky
When the boss from the corner store
He took me out to dinner
And the waiter was a winner
And the boss he was out the door
You’re the one who’s caught my eye
This could be something worth your while

Hey it’s not a waste of time
You’re maybe one of many but you will never
Be the last in line
Hey I’m really glad you’re here cuz you’re one
Of my favourite boyfriends of the year

Nathan Carter (the next artist up in our spotlight) is featured on “You Can’t Make Old Friends”, a quiet ballad that was a Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton duet back in 2013. While Lisa sounds a lot like Dolly, Nathan does not remind me of Kenny Rogers, although he is a fine singer. Anyway the voices blend nicely.

What will I do when you are gone?
Who’s gonna tell me the truth?
Who’s gonna finish the stories I start
The way you always do?

When somebody knocks at the door
Someone new walks in
I will smile and shake their hands,
But you can’t make old friends

You can’t make old friends
Can’t make old friends
It was me and you, since way back when
But you can’t make old friends

Carly Pearce currently has a song on the radio titled “Every Little Thing” but this is NOT that song. The song Lisa McHugh tackles here is the up-tempo #3 Carlene Carter hit from 1993. Lisa’s voice does not have the power of Carlene’s voice (the daughter of country legends June Carter and Carl Smith should have very substantial pipes) but she does an effective job with the song:

I hear songs on the radio
They might be fast or they might be slow
But every song they play’s got me thinkin’ ’bout you
I see a fella walkin’ down the street
He looks at me and he smiles real sweet
But he don’t matter to me
‘Cause I’m thinkin’ ’bout you

Every little dream I dream about you
Every little thought I think about you
Drives me crazy when you go away
I oughta keep you locked up at home
And like a wild horse I want to break you
I love you so much I hate you
Every little thing reminds me of you
Honey when you leave me here all alone

“The Banks of the Ohio” is an old warhorse, a murder ballad that has been covered by everyone from Ernest Stoneman, The Monroe Brothers and Charley Pride to Olivia Newton-John. Lisa gives this song a very slow folk-Celtic treatment after a spoken narrative. It is very nice and does not sound very similar to any other version I recall hearing.

Lisa gives “Livin’ In These Troubled Times” a Celtic/bluegrass touch with accordion, mandolin taking it at a somewhat faster clip than Crystal Gayle did in her 1983 top ten recording of this song, written by Sam Hogin, Roger Cook and Philip Donnelly. It’s probably heresy to say I like Lisa’s version better than the original, but in fact I do.

It takes all the faith that’s in you
Takes your heart and it takes mine
It takes love to be forgiven
Living in these troubled times

When it rains on the range
And it snows in the Spring
You’re reminded again
It’s just a march of the dying
Living in these troubled times

When I saw the song list for the album, I wondered whether this was the Michael Martin Murphey classic about a horse or the Mac Wiseman bluegrass romp or even possibly the Demi Lovato song from a few years back. As it turns out this “Wildfire” is an entirely different song, by someone named John Mayer. It’s taken at a very fast tempo and given a quasi-bluegrass arrangement.

Don’t get up just to get another
You can drink from mine
We can’t leave each other
We can dance with the dead
You can rest your head
On my shoulder if you want to
Get older with me
‘Cause a little bit of summer makes a lot of history

And you look fine, fine, fine
Put your feet up next to mine
We can watch that water line
Get higher and higher
Say, say, say
Ain’t it been some kind of day
You and me been catchin’ on
Like a wildfire

I got a rock from the river in my medicine bag
Magpie feather in his medicine bag

Say, say, say
Ain’t it been some kind of day
You and me been catchin’ on
Like a wildfire

“Thinking Out Loud” comes from the pen of Ed Sheeran. I don’t know anything about Sheeran (or John Mayer, for that matter) except that my stepson says both are good singers. This is a nice song, a slow ballad nicely sung but I don’t like the instrumentation which strikes me as smooth jazz or cocktail lounge R&B

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks
And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

I’m not a huge Dolly Parton fan so I thought that I would find Lisa’s vocal resemblance to Dolly Parton off putting. I should note that the Parton resemblance only shows up on some songs – on other songs she reminds me of Liz Anderson (mother of Lynn Anderson and a fine songwriter). I’ve listened to this album constantly for the last two days and find that I really like it. With the exception of the last song, the instrumentation is solidly country and while the focus is on faster songs, Lisa varies the tempos sufficiently to keep it interesting and sticks within her vocal range.

With the possible exception of “Bring On the Good Times” for which I could not find any information, all of the songs are covers of earlier recordings. That does not bother me in the least as I’ve always preferred a cover of a great song, than a recording of an unworthy new song.

I’d give this album an “A” – with a better arrangement on the the last song, I’d be tempted to give it an “A+”

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Album Review: Country Music of Your Life

country-music_good-brightTime-Warner has long been a trusted name for providing excellently re-mastered music in various genres of music. Country music fans may remember the Country USA series that covered each year for the period 1950-1972 with 24 songs, including some interesting songs that weren’t necessarily the biggest hits (usually because they weren’t on major labels).

The R&B market was covered by a similar series and the Easy Listening market hit the jackpot with the Your Hit Parade series that exhaustive covered the years 1940-1960 by year plus a bunch of CDs that grouped music together by theme or topic and extended the series into the 1960s, I don’t know whether or not I have the entire Your Hit Parade series but I do have forty-one CDs of the series covering about 1000 recordings.

Subsequent Time-Life series have featured the same digital mastering and useful notes but have been less exhaustive in scope. The Contemporary Country series would cover a three or four year period with a single disc of 22 songs, so the lesser known and minor label songs largely were gone. The latest Time-Life series is a collaboration with Music of Your Life, a radio format largely devoted to the easy listening/adult contemporary music market. Time-Life has collaborated before with Music of Your Life in assembling CDs of the music usually associated with the format. The actual label for this set is Star Vista/Time Warner.

Titled Country Music of Your Life, this latest set is a group of five two-CD sets in standard CD jewel boxes that hold two CDs. The booklet in the jewel box gives only the songwriting and publisher credits and billboard chart information . Additional information is contained in the 36 page book enclosed in the box. The titles of the CD sets are Talking In Your Sleep, Satin Sheets, I Believe In You, For The Good Times and Sweet Country Ballads. All but the last set are named after a song featured on one of the discs of the set.

By and large the first four sets are just random assortments of songs. All of the songs are big hits performed by the artists that enjoyed the hit, and the songs cover a wide range of dates. The first set has Hank Williams’ posthumous 1953 hit “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and Kenny Rogers’ 1980 hit “Lady” with sixteen of the tracks from the 1970s. The second set follows a similar pattern with Lefty Frizzell replacing Hank Williams as the token early 1950s representative.

The fifth set would please any fan of traditional country music (aside for the two Elvis Presley tracks, one a cover of “Green Green Grass of Home”). This set includes such gems as “Crazy Arms”, “Once A Day”, “Ring of Fire”, “Walk Through This World With Me” and “Please Help Me I’m Falling”. In theory the set consists of four two-CD sets with the fifth set as a “free bonus” (the television advertising was misleading). Accordingly, the enclosed book, although truly excellent, only covers the first four sets. The book is concise and well-written, giving interesting tidbits of information about the song and/or the performance, there are eight full page photographs of some of the stars (I think they reversed the image of the Glen Campbell photograph, which I recognized as the cover photo from Glen’s Wichita Lineman album) . Here’s an example of the book’s tidbits, this one about Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night”:

“Whatever criticism that had been leveled against Nashville’s conservative approach to how records sounded, there’s no question that the songs themselves were getting edgier. Sammi Smith moved to Music City in 1967 and befriended songwriter Kris Kristofferson. County fans bought into the sexual frankness of ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’; the single went gold,earning Grammys for both Smith and Kristofferson. Smith’s record also boosted Kristofferson’s reputation as one of the best songwriters of his generation.”

Here’s another, this one on Waylon Jennings’ “Amanda”:

“Bob McDill called ‘Amanda’ an apology to his wife, Nan, and it almost became the hit that got away for Waylon Jennings. McDill sent the demo to Waylon’s office, where it got lost. Jennings, who first heard the song when Don Williams’s version came out in 1973, recorded ‘Amanda’ for his 1974 album The Ramblin’ Man. RCA added overdubs nearly five years later; the “new and improved” ‘Amanda’ gave Waylon his seventh No. 1 hit as a solo artist.”

The booklet in the jewel box for the fifth or “bonus” set is flawed in that it only gives information for the first disc in the set.

If you are new to country music and suspect that there is more to the genre than Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and (ugh) Florida Georgia Line, this set is a good starting point. With the notable exceptions of Ernest Tubb, Carl Smith and Webb Pierce, most of the most significant artists of the period 1952-1988 are represented here, even if there is a bit more Elvis Presley and Olivia Newton-John than I feel is justified. The sound quality is terrific – you won’t hear better recordings of these songs.
Apparently there is a deluxe edition available for purchase which features 270 songs on eighteen discs. In either version the discs average 15 songs per CD (30 songs per set) and cost about $15 per disc or $30 per two disc set. Payment installments are available.

I would give the following grades:

Sound Quality:    A+
Book & Booklets:  A-
Song Selection:  B-
Value:   B-

The song lists as well as ordering information can be found at the Time-Life website.

Classic Rewind: Olivia Newton-John – ‘If You Love Me Let Me Know’

Fellow Travelers – Olivia Newton-John

olivia newton johnOlivia Newton-John is a British-born Australian singer who, while never really a country singer, sang a version of Australian folk-pop that fit comfortably into country radio’s format during the early 1970s.

Who Was She?

For a few years, Olivia Newton-John was a major international pop star and briefly, a movie star. Olivia’s recording career began in Australia, where her parents had emigrated in 1954, when she was six years old. Around 1965, Olivia won a contest where the prize was a trip to England for a recording contract. Her first single, released in 1966 by the English Decca label, “Til You Say You’ll Be Mine” did nothing chart-wise, but over the course of the next few years her career built some momentum.

Olivia’s first album IF NOT FOR YOU, was released in 1971 and contained two singles. “If Not For You” went top ten in Australia, Canada, England, and topped the US Adult Contemporary charts. The next single “Banks of The Ohio” (a rather morbid American folk song) went to #1 in Australia and charted in various other countries. Neither of these singles charted on the US Country charts although both did receive some country airplay.

From 1974 through 1982 Olivia Newton-John was a major pop star around the world with her records routinely going top ten. Her success accelerated for a few years after her successful movie role in GREASE in 1978.

After 1982 the hits started decreasing in size although she would continue to chart around the world until around 1992.

In addition to success in the singles market, Olivia Newton-John’s albums sold well. All told, she had twelve US albums that went at least gold (500,000 copies sold) with four of those albums going platinum (at least 1,000,000 copies sold). Although not specifically Olivia Newton-John albums, the soundtracks to Grease and Xanadu were hugely successful, with Grease selling over 8,000,000 copies in the US alone.

What Was Her Connection to County Music?

Starting with 1973’s “Let Me Be There”, country radio started charting Olivia’s records with six of the next seven singles reaching the country top ten. While none of her singles reached #1 on Billboard’s country chart, “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” reached #1 on Cashbox and “I Honestly Love You went to #1 on Record World. After 1976’s “Come On Over” her style changed, becoming more suggestive and with a harder beat that made it harder for country radio to justify playing her songs.

During her brief run as a country artist Olivia Newton-John won the 1974 CMA Female Vocalist of The Year and the 1973 NARAS Grammy for “Let Me Be There”. Both choices were highly controversial and remain so to this day as she never more than dabbled in country music and didn’t normally play the venues frequented by country fans. Still she did have a total of fifteen songs chart on Billboard’s Country Charts from 1973 to 1979 (Cashbox had a sixteenth song “Making A Good Thing Better” chart in 1977) and that’s more than Ray Charles or most of our other Fellow Travelers charted and more than many career country acts managed to chart.

Country roads and greener pastures

TaylorI was really happy to hear about the release of Taylor Swift’s new single last week. Now there’s something you never thought you’d hear me say. But (you knew there had to be a “but” coming, didn’t you?) I should qualify that comment by saying my mood was not affected so much because I was looking forward to listening to new Taylor Swift music, but because the single “Shake It Off” is a watershed moment in Swift’s career, as the artist, her label and her publicists acknowledge that 1989, Swift’s forthcoming album, is not country, but pop.

I will be the first to argue that this is hardly news and that Swift’s music was never really country to begin with, but it’s nice to hear the people responsible for marketing her finally admit it. While Swift’s defenders have argued for years that she was bringing new fans to the country genre, I always maintained that her youthful fanbase was unlikely to embrace the genre at large, and that Swift herself would eventually decide that the pop world was a better fit for her. The shift began with the release of 2012’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, which became the first Taylor Swift single to be deemed not country enough for country radio. It spent nine weeks at #1 anyway, due to a ridiculous change in Billboard’s chart tabulation methodology, but that is a separate topic.
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Classic Rewind – Olivia Newton-John – ‘Banks of the Ohio’

Olivia Newton-John at 23, taken from an Australian  television appearance in 1971:

Album Review: The Raybon Brothers – ‘The Raybon Brothers’

raybon brosAfter leaving Shenandoah, Marty decided to team up in a duo with his brother Tim. MCA released their one and only album together, a self-titled effort, in 1997.

Even Marty Raybon’s committed soulful vocal can’t save the gooey sentiment of ‘Butterfly Kisses’, the duo’s first single. The song had been a big AC hit for its writer, Bob Carlisle, but the Raybon Brothers’ country cover was less successful with radio, just creeping into the top 40. It may not have helped that another rival country cut was around at the same time (by Jeff Carson), although that one performed even more poorly; and the original itself also got some country airplay. However the exposure did propel the single to high sales figures, and it achieved gold certification.

‘The Way She’s Lookin’’ is a bouncy up-tempo number which while fairly generic is much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a flop when it was released as the second single; a shame, as it deserved to do better than ‘Butterfly Kisses’.

The final attempt at a single was a real misstep. ‘Falling’ is a very boring and not terribly good AC-styled duet with Olivia Newton-John – a curious choice whose shortlived country career was long since over. It didn’t chart at all, and didn’t deserve to.

The best track on the album is ‘Every Fire’, a ruefully tender ballad written by John Scott Sherrill and Cathy Majeski in which the protagonist regrets that the pain of losing his ex has stopped him from moving on:

It’s still raining in my heart
And that’s been putting out every fire I’ve tried to start

Also great is the Don Cook/Al Anderson penned ‘Trying To Keep The Woman I’ve Got’, a charming, up-tempo polite rejection of a woman coming on to him in a bar. This is like vintage Shenadoah.

‘Baby Blue’ is an average song, but has a pleasant melody and some lovely close sibling harmonies. The brothers wrote ‘Your Love’ with Mike Curtis, and this is quite a good sunny up-tempo number reminiscent of Shenandoah.

Tim was allowed to sing lead on a few tracks. He shows himself a competent vocalist with a big meaty voice, but not in his brother’s class. His vocal on ‘Gettin’ Ready For The World To End’ is loud and unsubtle, while he gives a solid but somewhat anonymous performance on his own ‘Hello Love’, which is quite a nice song. ‘Tangled Up In Love’ is a limp pop number co-written by Keith Urban.

The brothers’ musical partnership having failed to set the charts on fire, the duo disbanded, and Marty turned to a solo career. there are enough bright spots to make this worth picking up if you can find it cheaply.

Grade: B

Fellow Travelers: Gordon Lightfoot (1938-)

gordon lightfootThis is the sixth in a series of short articles about artists who, although not country artists, were of some importance to country music.

WHO WAS HE?

Gordon Lightfoot arguably is Canada’s most successful folk performer with a long string of pop successes in the United States and Canada and some hits in Australia and the UK as well. Gordon had many hits in Canada before breaking through as a singer in the US, but many of his compositions were made hits by American artists including songs such as “Ribbon of Darkness” (Marty Robbins) and “Early Morning Rain” (Peter, Paul & Mary, George Hamilton IV) . Among the other artists who have recorded Lightfoot’s songs are Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., The Kingston Trio, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Viola Wills, Richie Havens, The Dandy Warhols, Harry Belafonte, Tony Rice, Sandy Denny (with Fotheringay), The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Scott Walker, Sarah McLachlan, John Mellencamp, Toby Keith, Glen Campbell, Anne Murray, The Irish Rovers and Olivia Newton-John.

As a singer, Gordon’s most successful records were “Sundown”, “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald”, the first two reaching #1 in the US and Canada and the latter (a Canadian #1) reaching #2 in the US despite its six-minute length.

WHAT WAS HIS CONNECTION TO COUNTRY MUSIC?

Although Gordon Lightfoot charted eight times on Billboard’s Country charts, only “Sundown” cracked the top fifteen. His real importance to country music is in the huge number of country artists who recorded his songs. George Hamiliton IV recorded many of his songs on various albums scoring hits with “Steel Rail Blues” and “Early Morning Rain”. As noted above, Marty Robbins scored a #1 hit with “Ribbon of Darkness, a song also recorded by Connie Smith, Jack Greene and countless others. Glen Campbell had a hit with “Wherefore and Why”. Legendary bluegrass artists Mac Wiseman and Tony Rice each recorded entire albums of nothing but Gordon Lightfoot songs. Country albums of the late 1960s and the 1970s frequently included a Gordon Lightfoot song.

Gordon doesn’t seem to have an official website but there is a fan site. The site is a bit disjointed but contains much information about Lightfoot, including tour dates.

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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Week ending 5/1/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Buck Owens – I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail (Capitol)

1970: Charley Pride – Just Plain Charley (RCA)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Alabama – 40 Hour Week (RCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: John Michael Montgomery – John Michael Montgomery (Warner Brothersl)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Larry the Cable Guy – The Right To Bare Arms (Warner Brothers)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 4/24/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Connie Smith – Connie Smith (RCA)

1970: Johnny Cash – Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Columbia)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Alabama – 40 Hour Week (RCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: John Michael Montgomery – John Michael Montgomery (Warner Brothersl)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Larry the Cable Guy – The Right To Bare Arms (Warner Brothers)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 4/17/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Connie Smith – Connie Smith (RCA)

1970: Johnny Cash – Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Columbia)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Alabama – 40 Hour Week (RCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: John Michael Montgomery – John Michael Montgomery (Warner Brothersl)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Larry the Cable Guy – The Right To Bare Arms (Warner Brothers)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 4/10/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Buck Owens – I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail (Capitol)

1970: Johnny Cash – Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Columbia)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Alabama – 40 Hour Week (RCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: John Michael Montgomery – John Michael Montgomery (Warner Brothersl)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Trace Adkins – Songs About Me (Liberty)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 4/3/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Buck Owens – I Don’t Care (Capitol)

1970: Johnny Cash – Hello I’m Johnny Cash (Columbia)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Alabama – 40 Hour Week (RCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: Garth Brooks – The Hits (Capitol)

2000: George Strait – Latest Greatest Straitest Hits (MCA)

2005: Miranda Lambert – Kerosene (Sony)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 3/27/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Buck Owens – I Don’t Care (Capitol)

1970: Merle Haggard and The Strangers – Okie From Muskogee (Capitol)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: Ray Charles – Friendship (Columbia)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: Garth Brooks – The Hits (Capitol)

2000: George Strait – Latest Greatest Straitest Hits (MCA)

2005: Kenny Chesney – Be As You Are (BNA)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Week ending 3/20/10: #1 albums this week in country music history

1965: Buck Owens – I Don’t Care (Capitol)

1970: Merle Haggard and The Strangers – Okie From Muskogee (Capitol)

1975: Olivia Newton John – Have You Never Been Mellow (MCA)

1980: Kenny Rogers – Kenny (United Artists)

1985: George Strait – Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (MCA)

1990: Ricky Van Shelton – RVS III (Columbia)

1995: Garth Brooks – The Hits (Capitol)

2000: Dixie Chicks – Fly (Sony)

2005: Rascal Flatts – Feels Like Today (Lyric Street)

2010: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now (Capitol)

Spotlight Artist: Tanya Tucker

tanyatucker12-x600Like most males of my generation, I had a serious schoolboy crush on Olivia Newton-John, but she was replaced rather quickly in my affections by Tanya Tucker. Nearly 30 years later, Tanya remains one of my very favorite country music performers, so I am pleased to announce that she is our spotlight artist for the month of June.

Tanya Denise Tucker was born on October 10, 1958 in Seminole, Texas. By the time she was 13, she had become a major country music star, having been signed to a Columbia Records recording contract by Billy Sherrill, and having reached the #6 position on Billboard’s country singles chart with her first outing, “Delta Dawn”.

Despite her tender age, Tucker became known for releasing what her future producer Jerry Crutchfield described as a series of “hot and sweaty” songs, tackling a variety of very adult topics, including mental illness, alcoholism, illegitimacy, rape, and murder. A switch to MCA Records in 1975 resulted in material with less heavy themes, but despite some initial success, it also marked the beginnings of a series of personal problems and a career decline.

By the mid-1980s, she had been written off as a has-been. Her credibility was in tatters and she was without a recording contract when Jerry Crutchfield persuaded a very reluctant Jim Fogelsong, Director of A&R at Capitol Records, to give Tanya one more chance. Tanya proved that she could still deliver the goods when “One Love At A Time”, her first single for Capitol, peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart in 1986. She remained a fixture at the top of the charts and on the Capitol Nashville roster through the late 1990s.

Today, Tanya Tucker is one of a very small group of performers who can lay claim to have had chart success spanning four decades. On June 30th, Saguaro Road Records will release My Turn , her first album in seven years. I hope you’ll join us as we look back at the career highs and lows, and the triumphs and missteps of this very interesting living legend and country music icon.