Showing posts with label easy come easy go. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy come easy go. Show all posts

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Retro Album Review - Easy Come, Easy Go - George Strait


I would review new albums, but better sites than mine specialize in it, and frankly, I've tried listening to the reviewers' track recommendations and have found the samples so-so at best. My album reviews, therefore, focus on older releases that a casual country fan may have missed. 

I mentioned in the past that I own twenty-three George Strait albums (plus a boxed set). No, I'm not a fanatic. I own many, many, many CD's, not to mention LP's and those little round 45-RPM discs.

(These are just the CD's, and the rows are two-deep.)
It's no secret that George Strait is my favorite country artist. There's a reason they call him King George. That doesn't mean all twenty-three of my Strait CD's are shiny. At a certain point in time, I made it my goal to buy every one of his releases, just to say I owned them all, but as time went on my dedication flagged. And frankly, I simply stopped buying CD's all together. 
Unlike most every classic country fan, I'm not a huge fan of Strait's early work. It's not bad; it's just not standout. Oh sure, for its time it gleamed, but that was all relative. Country in those days was going through an identity crisis. If you've read my previous posts, you know that I abandoned country in the late seventies, and I had no clue who George Strait even was until my non-musical mother introduced me to him. My husband, who is definitely not a country fan, bought George's greatest hits -- Volume 1 -- just to prove to me his open-mindedness, but he stumbled in his selection. I certainly don't hate the songs; they just don't evince any heart-tugging emotion. 
It wasn't until the nineties that George hit his stride. I suspect he asserted more control over his career as it skyrocketed and didn't reflexively kow-tow to his producer's whims. (Tony Brown is a damn fine producer, but an artist's output should be a collaborative effort.)
Weird thing about George: he is a sucker for that easy-listening, smooth definitely non-country stuff, and he's demonstrated that in recent years. But maybe he's just torn. I like sixties and eighties pop/rock even though my heart belongs to country. And if one's been at the pinnacle of his industry for forty years, he's allowed to record whatever the heck he wants. 
I'm happy to report, however, that Easy Come Easy Go is a country album. And what an album it is!
Songwriter Jim Lauderdale is kind of a goofy, odd guy, but he is one of the best songwriters in country, and he has three tracks on this album -- three of the best tracks, by the way. Lauderdale-penned songs have been very good to George Strait. 
I actually remember bringing this CD home, slipping it into my CD changer and being bowled over by the very first (Lauderdale) track, Stay Out Of My Arms. (solid A)
Track #2, Just Look At Me, written by Gerald Smith and Curtis Wayne, is a solid stone country song; perhaps not as memorable as it could be simply because it's dwarfed by the other tracks on the album (B+):

Easy Come, Easy Go, penned by new Hall Of Famer Dean Dillon along with Aaron Barker, is a solidly-written song, its reputation enhanced by constant radio play (I think this may have been the first single release from the album) and by superb production. (solid B)

#4, I'd Like To Have That One Back (songwriters: Aaron Barker, Bill Shore, and Rick West -- Really? Three people to write a song?) sounds like an outtake from the movie Pure Country. It would have fit well there. It's a decent, albeit generic country song, but perhaps it suffers in comparison to the better album tracks. (going with a B- on this one):
Love Bug, which by far garnered the most attention of all the tracks on the album was written by the great Wayne Kemp and Curtis Wayne, and was (obviously) a sixties hit for George Jones, although some oblivious fans assumed it was an original George Strait recording. What can I say? It's a great, fun song, which is why Jones scored a hit with it originally. Here's a live performance that features Vince Gill (c'mon, this has gotta be an A):

Here comes another Lauderdale song at #6 - I Wasn't Fooling Around. Just perfection. (I love how George sings "A-round".) A+

Without Me Around I'd completely forgotten. This is another Dean Dillon (and John Northrup) tune. Frankly the weakest track on the album. (generous C)

I don't know why, but the title The Man In Love With You rang no bells with me until I just now played the video on YouTube. This is a good song, reminiscent of I Cross My Heart. Written by Steve Dorff and Gary Harju, it's a typical George Strait love song, which the more pensive Strait excels at doing. 

(A-ha! Steve Dorff also wrote I Cross My Heart! Am I good or what?)
I like this one, even though I'd somehow forgotten it. (B+)
That's Where My Baby Feels At Home. Okay, he got me with this one. The song was written by (again) the great Wayne Kemp, along with Curtis Wayne and Faron Young. Again, most novices don't know that this was an early hit for Faron Young, but I know. This is country the way country is supposed to be. (A+++)

The final track on the album proves my point about how much George loves that easy-listening dreck. We Must Be Loving Right, written by Clay Baker and Roger Brown, was also recorded by Barbra Streisand. Need I say more? George tries to country it up with some slide steel, but c'mon. 
I do understand why he closed out the album with this one, though. (C minus?)

Anytime one finds an album with mostly A's and B-plusses, that is a once in a lifetime discovery. Easy Come Easy Go could well be my favorite country album ever, though I hesitate to quantify those things. 

What George (and Tony) did so deftly was incorporate the best of ninety's songwriting with choice songs from the past. 
And thus rope us in and never let go.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Favorite

Entertainment Weekly recently decided it would become the purveyor of the top one hundred everything: movies, music, books, a bunch of other stuff that I haven't yet turned the page to find. 

That's a slippery slope! And inherently fraught with miscues. Who's to say that their "experts" are any more expert than you or I? Just perusing their music list confirmed my worst suspicions. The only country artists they seem to know exist are Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. 


So, as a counterpoint to EW, I decided to offer my own list. And it won't even cost you $19.95 for a three-month subscription. You can have all of it for free! (donations, I probably should mention, are accepted).

My modus operandi is a bit different, however. I decided I would pick somebody and cite my favorite thing that person has done.

So, let's talk about George Strait. 

I have a weird...compulsion...I guess you would call it. I determined long ago that I would own every album George Strait ever released. I kept to that promise until I realized, belatedly, that George had issued a new release in May. And the fact of the matter is, I didn't even care. Let's be frank. George's albums stopped being good about, oh, ten years ago or so. I think he forgot what country music is. Forgetfulness is a hazard for people George's age; and mine.

To be fair, I just now surfed over to Amazon and sampled every track on George's new album. Yup. Boring. Bad. Forgettable. I'm shelving (ha ha) my George Strait music collection for now.

There was a time, however, when ol' George could be counted on, when few other artists could, to satisfy us music lovers' craving for something tasty.

I tried really hard to narrow his best albums down to one, but I couldn't do it. I have two favorites.

Easy Come, Easy Go (1993)

You can buy it and/or listen to samples here

This album is one on which George sings country music. Scoff if you will, but have you listened to him lately? 

I looked for videos for some of the songs on the album, but naturally, he didn't bother to make any. Luckily, though, somebody thought enough of some of these songs to put 'em up there on YouTube, regardless. 

Here is one of my favorites:

I love that song!

Here's another one, written by Jim Lauderdale:

I remember when Faron Young released the single of this next song. I love Faron Young, and I obviously love George Strait, so this is a win-win for me:


There are a bunch of other great tracks on Easy Come Easy Go, but I don't want this post to be two miles long, so listen to them/buy them, if you like country music (emphasis on "country").

Pure Country (Original Movie Soundtrack) (1992)

Buy and/or listen to samples here

Did you see that movie - Pure Country? It was pretty cringe-worthy.  I avoided seeing it for as long as I could, and then somebody gave me the VHS version as a gift. 

Somebody, somewhere, talked George into "acting". I don't think he thought it was a good idea, and he was absolutely correct. But sometimes one just has to try stuff. 

I also avoided the soundtrack for a long while; the reason being that I figured George for a "pure" artist; not one who would be influenced by a slab of songs thrown together to illustrate the so-called "plot" of a movie. Maybe I had too many flashbacks of watching Elvis in his "Blue Something or Other" movies.

Thing is, though, this album is good!

My friend Peg, and I, used to sing along with this song; over-acting it out; being fools who thought they were clever. The fact is, though, this is a hell of a song.

I don't know what numbskull thought this next song went with this video, but it's kind of jarring, because the action is much too fast for the song, but, alas, this was the best I could find. This is another "what the hell; how good is this songwriter?" song written by Jim Lauderdale:

Shoot, the good songs just keep coming:

Baby Your Baby:

George knows how to cry a song:

Dang, I think I might have narrowed my favorite George Strait CD down to one.

Too late. You are now stuck with two great ones.

Shoot, if I still had a working VCR, I just might be tempted to watch "Pure Country" again.

Friday, September 16, 2011

George Strait ~ Here For a Good Time

I thought I would do something a bit different tonight. That is, review an album while listening to it for the first time.

I imagine this is what "real" music reviewers do ~ write their review while listening for the first time. Because, face it, it's the first and ONLY time they will listen, since they've got a lot of irons in the fire, and they have to MOVE ON!

Music reviewing must be a really tedious job. Oh sure, we all listen to music, and we think, it would be so COOL to review albums for a living. It wouldn't be! We're only thinking about the GOOD albums, and how many of those are there, really?

No, they have to slog through a pile of smoldering garbage every day, and write something coherent. And that's just the COUNTRY albums! Can you imagine having to listen to that POP stuff? At least country songs have a story one can comment on, when all else fails. The pop songs simply repeat the same line over and over and over. No wonder all the reviewers are half-insane, and are thus, Democrats.

So, here I am; Friday night. I bought Here For a Good Time a week ago, and have just now clawed off the cellophane wrapper.

As you know, I do not listen to country radio, and therefore, I didn't even know what the lead-off single was, until I looked it up. Pathetic? Maybe? (I mean me; not the single.) But it gives me that innocent perspective, so I have no hidden agenda, other than the fact that I have been a rabid fan of George Strait since sometime back in the dark ages.

One would think that this fact would make me LOVE every little thing that George does. Au contraire. It, in fact, makes me even TOUGHER on George, since I expect a damn lot out of him. And to be frank, George has been letting me down for a few years now.

But let's see, shall we? I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

1. Love's Gonna Make It Alright (sic)

Aside from the misspelling of "all right", this song seems tired. Even though he's taking his gal out dancing, and even though he tells her she can throw her cares on the floor, poor George seems bored with this track. And no wonder. The writing is uninspired; a few well-worn themes tossed together to create a salad of lethargy. Probably not the best choice of tracks to start the album, if one is looking for a bit of peppy excitement, but then again, George hasn't been peppy for awhile now. C-

2. Drinkin' Man

The song was co-written by Bubba Strait and go-to guy Dean Dillon. The story flows nicely; it's a stream of thought narrative about the life and hard times of a man lost to alcohol, but the song would have benefited from more melodic variation. However, it accomplishes its goal of setting a melancholy mood. (Side note: the singer doesn't remember when or where he met his one true love. Really? Most people do. Maybe the booze killed off some brain cells.) B-

3. Shame On Me

The shortest track on the album is also one of the best. It's a two-step shuffle; nothing profound, but it clearly is the style in which George is most comfortable, and that is evident in his performance. Perhaps that is also because George co-wrote the song with good ole Bubba again. At least Bubba got George to start writing. And perhaps George should begin to depend upon himself more when choosing songs for his albums. Or at least be a bit more picky. B+

4. Poison

George seems to be on a drinking kick (sonically) on this album. "Poison" is actually a bit better than track #2. Melodically, it outshines the afore-mentioned track; and it's more philosophical than self-pitying. One has to admire the craft in the lines: "You can learn to love anything; even a bird in a cage will sing...a song". But maybe that's just the writer in me.... B

5. Here For a Good Time

I could probably do without the Casio keyboard that opens this song; nevertheless, THIS should have been the opening track on the album. "I'm not here for a long time; I'm here for a good time". THAT would set the tone. Another song written by the Strait boys, with Dean Dillon. It's apparent why this song was chosen to be the first single. It fits the George Strait groove; you know that one; the one we've known since nineteen eighty-mumble-something. I've told George for YEARS ~ skip the ballads; stick with the up-tempo numbers. But does George listen to me? No! A-

6. House Across the Bay

What is this? And does Dean Dillon just hang out with George and Bubba every day? Does he live next door? I guess this is about some lady that George lost (fictionally). But why is he not living in the house across the bay? Did he rent it out? I suppose, in this economy, it's difficult to unload real estate. This song confuses me. And for that, along with the fact, that it's sort of like one of those songs I write and crumple up and toss in the garbage, I give it a..... D+

7. Lone Star Blues

Delbert McClinton is a good writer, so I'm thinking this is one he had in one of those pocket portfolios, and when he heard that George Strait was recording a new album, he thought, hey, this one is about Texas! And you know how egotistical those Texas people are! Maybe I can unload this one on George! And, sure enough, he did! I got bored listening to all the verses of this song. Who can't write a song like this? I've got a Texas song, too, and it's actually a bit more clever than this one. If only I lived next door to George. C-

8. A Showman's Life

The showman's life is a hard life. And all that money just creates even more misery. HINT: Don't sing about how hard your life is, when you are set for life. Most people aren't. They won't show you any sympathy. Even with minor chords. Kudos on the harmonies by Faith Hill, though. She needs the work, so thanks for helping to alleviate the unemployment problem. C-

9. Three Nails and a Cross

How many writers does it take to write a song? Well, four, I have learned tonight. How many writers does it take to write a good song? I'll say, two more. The title can't help but remind one of the song, "Three Wooden Crosses", which is far superior. But that's what happens when one tries to jump on the bandwagon; albeit a bandwagon that pulled out of the station many years earlier. D- (for the obvious pandering)

10. Blue Marlin Blues

Dean Dillon stopped by for coffee one day, and said, "Hey! How about this? Wanna try to come up with something to fit this title?" Sure, said Bubba and George. "We're up for basically anything!" Thus, this song was borned. Maybe if you live in Florida, and go fishing a lot, this song will resonate with you. If you DON'T live in Florida, then I say, hey, how about "Walleye Blues"? That would make a hell of a lot more sense to me than this. And I still wouldn't really care for it. And don't try that organ stuff. Just leave that to Dwight. At least he incorporates the organ sound into some really GOOD songs. D

11. I'll Always Remember You

"It all started back in 1981." It did, didn't it? George, this isn't your swan song, is it? We all get older, and things change. But we have to keep trying to stay interested. The worst thing is to give in and give up. And, George, if there are still things that you want to say and do, is this really how you want to leave things? Of course not. C-


Well, it was really a slog to listen to this whole CD and write about it. I don't think I would try this exercise again.

I haven't averaged it out, but I'm guessing it would come out to be about a C. And, you know, I won't ever listen to this CD again. Just like the last one, which was called.......something that I can't remember.

I've bought every one of George's CD's. Every one. And I didn't want to break the chain, so I bought this one, too. But, to be frank, the last CD's of George's that I actually enjoyed were Pure Country and especially, Easy Come, Easy Go. Buy those.

George was apparently too tired to create a music video for his latest release, so I guess, watch the pretty picture, and enjoy "Here For a Good Time":