4th Anniversary Tribute To THE CD PROJECT (CD Review 1 of 4)

Various Artists - Southern Nights: Classic Country Crossovers (2010)

"Special 2 CD Collection"

How special?  I bought it at Target for $4.99 on clearance around Christmas 2011 and never breached the cellophane until today on this special occasion.  Knowing me and my Cow Talk jukebox leanings, this double CD is really a no-brainer packed with 28 country-pop tunes from the Sixties up through the Eighties.  Checking the discs copyright, it seems as if this is a corporate tag-team project with EMI handling Disc One and Sony tagging in for Disc Two.

Disc One tracks:

  • Southern Nights - Glen Campbell: 1977 #1 Country, #1 Pop, #1 AC  A groove that reminds me of a drive down a country backroad with both sides lined by tall shade trees and a simple, repetitive guitar lick. Own this on 45 - actually, have two copies - just checked.  Definitely Cow Talk jukebox material.
  • Queen Of Hearts - Juice Newton: 1981 #14 Country, #2 Pop, #2 AC  A rollicking, infectious strumfest with Juice's sweet vocals sounding more pop than country.  In the narrow-genre radio world we live in nowadays, this would be classified as Adult Album Alternative.  Heard it on the jukebox.
  • The Gambler - Kenny Rogers: 1978  #1 Country, #16 Pop, #3  Sweet Kenny Rogers! The man's late Seventies comeback was built upon two types of songs: story songs like this one for the dudes and sweet love songs for the ladies.  This one's getting some good-natured ribbing courtesy of Kenny himself in recent Geico ads.  It was on the jukebox.
  • Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray: 1980  #1 Country, #33 Pop, #3 AC  Was this written for inclusion on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack or just rounded up for the compilation so Bud and Sissy would have something to slow dance to?  It was huge despite the lackluster Pop chart peak, crossing over to weddings and even high school dances while also crossing over from country stations to Top 40 stations.  So money Cow Talk.
  • Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle: 1977  #1 Country, #2 Pop, #4 AC Sounding more like a torchy lounge song from the Forties than a song from 1977, this one turns me on every time.  And did you ever see hair as long as Ms. Gayle was rocking?  She was a modern day Rapunzel!  Definitely heard at Cow Talk.
  • You And I - Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle: 1982  #1 Country, #7 Pop, #2 AC  Another slow dance favorite.  If I had compiled this compilation, there would have been two or three other, more upbeat Eddie Rabbitt tunes instead of this one which is kind of on the lame side for me, with only Gayle's echoing vocals saving the whole shebang.  Plus it's from 1982, the greatest year in music EVER!, so it can't be completely bad.
  • Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell: 1975 #1 Country, #1 Pop, #1 AC  There was a period from the late Sixties through the late Seventies when Glen could do no wrong.  His records regularly crossed over to the pop charts and he even had his own weekly televised variety show.  I've only been to two rodeos in my life and I'll be damned if both of them weren't star-spangled.  All over the jukebox.
  • Bop - Dan Seals: 1985 #1 Country, #10 AC  I gave this one some play because it was England Dan!  More power to him for having a second career on Country radio but if you listen to his songs, the foundations are built on soft rock.  Past my Cow Talk time.
  • Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On - Mel McDaniel: 1984 #1 Country  A direct descendant of Orbison's (Oh) Pretty Woman and Little Richard's The Girl Can't Help It.  I don't remember hearing it much back in the day but it's harmless.  No Cow Talk plays.
  • The Race Is On - George Jones: 1964 #3 Country, #96 Pop  This is the oldest track on the whole album and it also ranks as one of the best. Of. All. Time.  Cow Talk essential.
  • Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell: 1968 #1 Country, #3 Pop, #1 AC  Coming in as the second oldest track on ye olde compilation is yet another Glen Campbell gem.  Songs like this are the reason this guy had nearly sixty Country Top 40 hits AND more than forty Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary Top 40 hits.  Dwight Yoakam and Pete Anderson did this song justice on the covers album Under The Covers.  The jukebox played this one a lot.
  • You Needed Me - Anne Murray: 1978 #4 Country, #1 Pop, #3 AC  It's a pretty song and a positive one at that.  And like the similar Wind Beneath My Wings, I would rather hear just about any other song by the respective artists.  If it was on the jukebox, I have blocked it out.
  • Angel Of The Morning - Juice Newton: 1981 #22 Country, #4 Pop, #1 AC  A suitably majestic cover and yet another winning song from our girl Juice. who was born a Judy.  I'm going to start calling my Aunt Judy "Juice" and see if it catches on. Jukebox gold.
  • Through The Years - Kenny Rogers: 1981 #5 Country, #13 Pop, #1 AC  Here's one of those songs for the ladies I mentioned earlier.  Produced by Lionel Richie, it shows up frequently on family reunion video and photo slide show soundtracks.  I'd say it was on the jukebox but I don't particularly remember hearing it.

Disc Two tracks:

  • Here You Come Again - Dolly Parton: 1977 #1 Country, # Pop, #2 AC  In many aspects, Dolly was the female Glen Campbell: both emerged from supporting roles to superstardom, both had the respect of their peers and both had their own TV shows.  Dolly even ventured into motion pictures and opened her own theme park!  The only thing country about this song is Dolly's voice.  Jukebox gold.
  • Let Your Love Flow - Bellamy Brothers: 1975 #21 Country, #1 Pop, #2 AC  My love for this song is well-documented.  Bought the 45 as soon as I could and the album not long after that only to discover this song was one of a kind and one of the few the Brothers Bellamy did not write themselves. Certainly Cow Talk.
  • On The Road Again - Willie Nelson: 1980 #1 Country, #20 Pop, #7 AC  From Willie's brief foray into motion pictures, this song has been a road trip mix tape, mix CD and playlist staple since Day One.  Cow Talk jukebox for sure.
  • Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love) - Waylon Jennings: 1977 #1 Country, #25 Pop, #16 AC  HERC SR. loved this song so much we even made a pilgrimage to the tiny town of Luckenabch one Summer.  Love it when Willie comes sneaking in at the end.  My favorite line is "firm-feeling women" - never heard them described like that but that is exactly what MRS. HERC feels like:  My yoga cutie feels firm.  Jukebox jam.
  • I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World - Ronnie Milsap: 1981 #1 Country, #20 Pop, #3 AC  I'm a Milsap fan for sure but I don't remember this song at all.  Catchy chorus as one would expect from our man Ronnie.  Could have been on the jukebox but I can't recall.  
  • Love In The First Degree - Alabama: 1980 #1 Country, #15 Pop, #5 AC  There had been Country artists before Alabama came along but apparently there had never been any Country groups.  These guys set records, won awards and sold by the millions.  Like The Beatles, they honed their skills for years before becoming "overnight" stars, playing thousands of gigs on the Beach Music circuit of Georgia and the Carolinas.  I was a fan from the git go but lost interest late in the Eighties.  Still like their older stuff, and this one is classic.  Cow Talk certified.
  • Islands In The Stream - Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers: 1983 #1 Country, #1 Pop, #1 AC Through the years, both Kenny and Dolly have been MVPs in the duet department and when they finally joined forces, with the Bee Gees of all people, it was chart-topping magic.  Even hip-hop had to recognize as the song's chorus was interpolated in Ghetto Superstar.  Too late for the jukebox, though.
  • East Bound & Down - Jerry Reed: 1977 #2 Country, #1 HERC  Love Jerry Reed.  Love Burt Reynolds.  Love Smokey & the Bandit.  Such a great song.  If anything, it is too brief.  Most recently heard on Archer's homage to Smokey & the Bandit.  Certainly one of my most-played songs on the jukebox.
  • Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer To You) - Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers: 1982 #1 Country  Harmony vocals are the hook here and I'm not ashamed to say that when I was finally allowed to join the RCA Music Service and get my 4 albums for a penny (or whatever the deal was), Larry Gatlin's Greatest Hits was one of my picks, though that was before this song came out.  Quite possibly the most Country song on the album.  Definitely on the Cow Talk jukebox given that it was located about an hour outside of Houston.
  • (There's No) Gettin' Over Me - Ronnie Milsap: 1981 #1 Country, #5 Pop, #2 AC Definitely recognize this one.  What I don't recognize is any country elements, no pedal steel or fiddle.  That sax is an AC accoutrement, mon cherie.  Definitely on the jukebox.
  • Baby I Lied - Deborah Allen: 1983 #4 Country, #26 Pop, #10 AC  Nothing special about this song until the chorus.  Just put it on loop: Baby I Lied, Baby I Lied, Baby I Lied, etc.  Too late for Cow Talk.
  • Jolene - Dolly Parton: 1973 #1 Country, #60 Pop, #44 AC  Unlike a lot of her female (and male) counterparts, Dolly wrote many of her own ditties, such as this one.  It's a great song musically and lyrically, deserving of its many accolades.  Heard on the Cow Talk jukebox for sure.
  • You Don't Know Me - Mickey Gilley: 1981 #1 Country, #55 Pop, #12 AC  Gilley had a way with other people's songs and this cover of Ray Charles's cover of Eddy Arnold's original is a fine example.  After Urban Cowboy, Mickey Gilley was ever present on the jukebox.
  • Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson: 1982 #1 Country, #5 Pop, #2 AC  Speaking of gifted interpreters...  Willie Nelson made a definite play for the "squares" who failed to look past his outlaw persona by recording this song on the second of several albums he made of adult contemporary (AC) standards.  Loved it then, love it now and it was all over the Cow Talk jukebox.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  None in particular - it was my first time hearing it.  Though, as a compilation, most of the songs struck a chord in my memory as noted in my running track-by-track Cow Talk Jukebox commentary.  Can't even pick a favorite disc in the set though for future listenings, both discs will be shuffled.  Interesting how some songs seemed to be Pop->Country crossovers instead of the other way around.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, HERC!

    I'm not a country fan, but even I know all these songs. And while it doesn't contain an image of the jukebox, here's a recent photo of the Cow Talk Steakhouse sign in Navasota. The actual steak house and livestock barn aren't in the picture, but those would be to the right of this image. In one of those cosmic coincidences, I would frequently pass the Cow Talk in the mid-80's as it was on the route between home and college.