My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Ronal McCown

Album Review – John Anderson – ‘Wild And Blue’

Wild and BlueWild And Blue was John Anderson’s fourth album, released in 1982, and it provided the springboard for a major change in his career.

It was produced, like I Just Came Home To Count The Memories, by John with the Canadian Frank Jones who had worked with some of the all-time greats, including, at various times, Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and Johnny Cash. The sessions which resulted in this album were the last ever recorded at the legendary Columbia Studio B, which was demolished immediately afterwards. Most of the album was in the solidly country style John had become known for in the past few years, but there were a couple of tracks where he took a new turn.

The title track is a carefully crafted song written by John Scott Sherrill, with a clever play on words (“They could just take you up to yonder, honey, you’re already wild and blue”), pained, wailing vocal, and fiddle-heavy arrangement. The complex lyric depicts a troubled woman yearning for a man she can’t have, with the narrator asking,
Way across town a phone rings off the wall
If you know he ain’t home why do you keep calling?”

She then seeks some kind of tawdry satisfaction with other men – and only in the last verse do we find that the narrator is this woman’s husband, when he pleads,
“It’s four in the morning and you’re all alone
With no place to go, you know you ought to come home”.

The lead-off single from the set, it was John’s first #1 hit, a major achievement but one soon to be overshadowed.

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Album Review: John Anderson – ‘John Anderson’

John AndersonAfter signing him in 1977, Warner Brothers took their time developing John Anderson, testing the waters with a series of singles at country radio, most of which failed to chart. Finally, in 1980 they took the plunge, and released his self-titled debut album, produced by Norro Wilson. It did not sell particularly well, but it was a launching pad for his career and although some aspects of the production have dated a little (particularly the background vocals), it stands up very well today. Indeed, it remains, in my opinion, one of the best debut albums by any country singer ever. The album showcased John’s hardcore country voice with some excellent songs, five of them co-written by the singer himself. The overriding theme is heartbreak, and John’s sometimes raw voice imbues them with authentic sadness.

The first song likely to have brought John Anderson to the ears of county fans was ‘The Girl At The End Of The Bar’, which just squeezed into the top 40 back in 1978, and deserved to do much better. It was written by John with Lionel Delmore (son and nephew of the Delmore Brothers, one the most successful early country duos), who has been an enduring writing partner for John Anderson over the years. Rather along the lines of Joe Nichols’ more recent hit ‘She Only Smokes When She Drinks’, this song paints a portrait of a woman who has been unlucky in love and now just wants to be left alone with her drink:
“She’s not there for company
She don’t like to remember
She once let herself go too far
She’s not there to complain
She just wants to remain
The girl at the end of the bar…

She don’t play the jukebox
She’s lived all those sad songs first hand
What’s made her so bitter
And why love has quit her
Is because she has loved the wrong man.”

The follow-up single stalled just outside the top 40, and was not included here, but ‘Low Dog Blues’, another Anderson/Delmore collaboration did better, just missing the top 30, although it is by far the least interesting track on the album. The pair wrote two further songs here, both very good: the sorrowful ballad ‘It Looks Like The Party Is Over’, about the end of a relationship, and the bluesy hillbilly groove of ‘Havin’ Hard Times’, a lament on the subject of hard economic times which strikes a topical chord again today, as John complains, “What used to be a dollar ain’t worth a silver dime”.

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