||From the Vault...
© MCA Records
Year of Release: 1985
I Was Country WhenCountry Wasn't Cool
Wish You Were Here
The Best Of Strangers
Happy BirthdayDear Heartache
(If Loving You Is Wrong)I Don't WantTo Be Right
One Of A KindPair Of Fools
In Times Like These
There's No LoveIn Tennessee
Barbara Mandrell related sites:
It seemed that back in the 1970s, practically every music performer had
their own TV show. Artists such as Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Sonny & Cher,
The Captain & Tennille, and Tony Orlando & Dawn had their own TV shows that
were on the air, and they were all quite popular. Another country artist,
Barbara Mandrell (and her sisters) was also on that list of music talent
having their own television program.
In looking at Barbara Mandrell, with her beautiful eyes and voice, I can't
help to think that every guy did have some kind of "crush" over her and/or her
sisters, while watching their TV show. Her Greatest Hits features
the well-known songs Barbara Mandrell had dominated on the country charts.
One song in particular, "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool"
is one song that always stands out in your mind when the name Barbara Mandrell
is mentioned. It's a great song, that features guest vocalist George Jones.
"Years" may not be recognizable, but it is a nice slow ballad,
likewise "The Best Of Strangers" tells the sad story of lovers who
are practically strangers, not loving each other (typical country story).
"Wish You Were Here" is another recognizable song, "Happy Birthday,
Dear Heartache" has another typical country storyline, where one's heart
is broken by love, as this song has a great country melody, not often heard
in today's 1990s country sound. It's similar to Crystal Gayle's "Don't
It Make My Brown Eyes Blue".
I first discovered Barbara Mandrell when I received the 45 single "(If
Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right," a soulful song in the
country mold. This song is quite impressive, as it was a single regularly
played from my vinyl collection at the time.
"Crackers" is one of those "I'm Sorry" songs, having a happy-go-lucky
country beat. And it's a sort-of equivalent song to Johnny Duncan's "She Can
Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime" where the common chorus in Mandrell's
song is "you can leave crackers in my bed anytime." Sounds corny, but it works.
"One Of A Kind Pair Of Fools" has a killer blues guitar lead,
making this song a standout. "In Times Like These" has a definite
Judds sound, and the closing song, "There's No Love In Tennessee"
is similar to her "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool", with its
main verses, yet its chorus is different.
One problem with this album: There were far more great songs Barbara
Mandrell recorded, as this collection only has 10 of her greatest hits.
I have yet to see a more complete anthology, as two songs in particular that
were not included in this set: "Sleeping Single In A Double Bed",
and "Til You're Gone." (Her remaining four #1 songs are in this set.)
One thing I've noticed, is that there aren't any complete anthologies of
well-known country artists who were popular in the 1970s. These country
talents were the roots of country, having a sound that is much different than
the late Eighties/Nineties country music. I've still yet to see any
worthwhile collections of such early country artists as T.G. Sheppard, Earl
Thomas Conley, and even if there are some greatest hits compilations of these
country artists, there aren't enough songs in these collections, making the
fan wanting to hear more: Artists like Charley Pride, Mickey Gilley, Crystal
Gale, and Barbara Mandrell.
The roots of country is not really recognizable in today's record stores.
Country radio stations playing the most recent up-to-date country do not even
play the old country that dominated the radio airwaves back in the 1970s.
There may be a small handful that mix the old and new country, but it is very
rare. It would be great to hear the great songs of today's country artists,
like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain, followed by the likes of
Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton. We have to look hard to locate
a country station that mixes the old and new country, because most people who
are die-hard country fans relate to the older country rather than today's
country sound. Back then, it had a more, true country sound, where today's
country is more pop and rock. Not to make today's country look bad, it's not.
Today's country is great, except that we should be dedicating time to those
who started country sounding great as it does today, by playing the older
country, and especially the pioneers who started it all, like Hank Williams Sr.
and Chet Atkins.
And Barbara Mandrell -- she is another artist who paved the road for how
country is so popular today, yet we don't hear her music blended with today's
country on the radio. Somewhere there's at least one country radio station
in every state playing her music, and finding it is like finding a needle in
a haystack. Likewise, trying to find a real good collection of hers in the record stores.
If you find it, treasure it -- these are the artists who made country what it
is today, and maybe what Barbara Mandrell sang in her most popular song is
true: Maybe country wasn't/isn't cool for the older talents to play on today's
country stations. But man, they were cool, much cooler than some (not all)
of the acts we are hearing today.
Just blowing off steam, I guess...
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