My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Classic Rewind: The Amazing Rhythm Aces – ‘Third Rate Romance’

The original version of one of Sammy Kershaw’s 90s hits:

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Album Review: Sammy Kershaw – ‘Feelin’ Good Train’

Sammy’s third album for Mercury/Polygram was released in 1994, and was produced as before by the team of Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson.  The first single, ‘National Working Woman’s Holiday  proved to be Sammy’s biggest hit since She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful, just missing the top spot with a #2 peak.  It was co-written from the usually estimable Roger Murrah, but while it is catchy, this well-meaning tribute to a man’s hard working wife comes across as pandering.

A cover of the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ 1970s hit ‘Third Rate Romance’, which is much better, also reached #2.  The closely observed lyric is on the surface unjudgmental, but sharply honest and precise about the sleazy nature of the situation.  The original singer and the song’s writer, Russell Smith, contributes backing vocals.

Mac McAnally’s gently atmospheric but slightly overproduced ‘Southbound’) with McAnally on backing vocals) was perhaps too subtle for country radio, and showed the first signs of a commercial slowdown for the artist, not getting far into the top 30.  ‘If You’re Gonna Walk, I’m Gonna Crawl’ did a little better, and was a top 20 hit.  It’s actually my favourite of the album’s singles, an entertaining upbeat number about a honky tonker seeing the error of his ways only when his wife is set to walk away.  It was written by co-producer Cannon with Larry Bastian.

There is a rare writing credit for Sammy on the joyous Cajun rocker ‘Better Call A Preacher’, which features Jo-El Sonnier’s accordion. I’m surprised this irresistible track wasn’t a single.  Another joy is ‘Never Bit A Bullet Like This’, a playfully performed duet with George Jones.  Also quite entertaining is ‘Paradise From Nine To One’, a cheerful if rather generic up-tempo number about a couple painting the town red.  The title track, however, is just pointless

Breakup song ‘If You Ever Come This Way Again’ is a Dean Dillon co-write (with Donny Kees).  The phrasing and melody bear all the hallmarks of a Dillon composition, while the production utilizes adelicate string arrangement to add sweetness to the melancholy mood. This is an excellent, subtle song about the complicated emotions felt by the protagonist facing separation from someone for whom we feel he has stronger feelings than he actually admits.

Also excellent is the delicately mournful ballad ‘The Heart That Time Forgot’, written by Tony Martin and Sterling Whipple, about failing to get past the memory of a lost love.  The soulful ‘Too Far Gone To Leave’ is an emotional ballad which isn’t bad, but has an obtrusive string arrangement which drowns the vocal at times.

It did not sell quite as well as its predecessors, but was certified gold.  While not Sammy Kershaw’s best work, it is a pretty solid effort, and used copies are available so cheaply it’s worth picking up.

Grade: B+

Spotlight Artist: Sammy Kershaw

Sammy Kershaw, third cousin of legendary Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw, was born Samuel Paul Kershaw on Feb. 24, 1958 in Kaplan, Lousania, the heart of Cajun country.  He lost his father when he was eleven; the same year his grandfather gifted him with his first guitar. The death of his father forced the beginnings of his professional career, as his family desperately needed supplemental income. By age 12 Kershaw was working with local bandleader J.P. Perry, and he toured the southern club and honky-tonk circuit with Perry throughout his teenage years.

By 1985 Kershaw had moved to Oklahoma to sing in local bands, and was already on his second marriage. A stint with the touring club band Blackwater lead to a dependency on alcohol and drugs. By 1988 he quit the business to save his marriage and took a job working full-time as the supervisor of store remodeling at a local Wal-Mart.

His songwriter friend Barry Jackson convinced Kershaw to submit a demo tape to Mercury Records in 1990, and he landed a record deal after one showcase performance. He released his platinum selling debut Don’t Go Near The Water in 1991, and had a #3 hit with his debut single “Cadillac Style.” The critics highly praised his 1993 sophomore album Haunted Heart and radio rewarded him by making lead single “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” his first and only number one hit. Kershaw was also winning praise vocally, often being compared to George Jones.

Even though his honky-tonk style was enduring to fans Kershaw took more liberties going forward, releasing material more geared toward radio airplay. The results paid off and his next effort, Feelin’ Good Train yielded two smash hits – “National Woman’s Working Holiday” and a cover of “Third Rate Romance,” originally recorded by The Amazing Rhythm Aces. His star had started to fade by 1996, although his Politics, Religion, and Her album garnered two top ten hits (“Meant To Be” and “Vidalia”). Kershaw would have his final hit single the following summer when “Love Of My Life” hit #2.

By the late 90s, Kershaw’s second marriage was falling apart as he began a romantic relationship with fellow 90s hit maker Lorrie Morgan. The couple dueted on the top 20 “Maybe Not Tonight” and eventually married in 2001. That same year they released I Finally Found Someone a duets album that spun the minor hit “She Drinks Tequila.” The dismal record sales led to his release from Mercury Records.

Kershaw released I Want My Money Back in 2003 via Audium Entertainment, Honky Tonk Boots via Category 5 records in 2006, and Better Than I Used To Be via Big Hit Records in 2010. While none of these records brought him any hit singles, the title track to his 2010 album was a #6 hit for Tim McGraw earlier this year. He was also inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Louisiana Songwriters Association Hall of Fame in 2010.

In addition to his musical career, Kershaw has been heavily focused on politics over the past six years, announcing his run for lieutenant governor of Louisiana in 2007. He would end up gaining only 30% of the vote. He ran for a second time in 2010, but fell to a distant third in the race despite carrying 31 of the 64 parishes – more than any other candidate.

Kershaw was also the spokesperson for protectourcoastline.org, a non-profit dedicated to providing relief to the shrimpers and fisherman affected by 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s also become quite the savvy Facebook user, regularly posting pictures and status updates to his fan page.

He returned his focus to his music career late last month with the release of A Sammy Klaus Christmas, his second holiday collection (following 1994’s Christmas Time’s A-Comin’) and first release on the MRI label.

We’ll be taking a look back at his discography for the next month.