This week, Part 3 of Desert Island Country Albums. The ones you would choose if you were marooned on a desert island to listen to, (ALA - Tom Hanks In Castaway). I'll list some of mine, and I will pick one for each article from each decade starting with 1980, up until 2019, and a Wild Card album which can be from any decade. So each installment, there will be 5 to list. I'll do four parts, so 20 should about cover it.
Desert Island Country Island Albums - Part 3
1980's – Storms Of Life - Randy Travis (1986)
Rarely does an album or artist come along that captures our attention as quickly and as well as Randy Travis and this gem of an album. This was so fresh and new at the time, it took the format by storm. This album just about single-handedly ended the pop-country phase. It had been waning in popularity for some time, but this album was the death blow, and traditional country was now the rule. It was his debut album and went on to sell a few million, and opened the eyes and ears of people who had been waiting for a sound like this. His big, warm voice filled the radio and this album went on to inspire the next generation that was on the way. This was a gamble, and it really paid off. If you've never heard this album it's worth the buy for many reasons, but also because it was pivotal in a starting an avalanche of new artists and styles that we still are riding today. Travis went on to an incredible run.
Singles - 1982 #6 / On The Other Hand #1 / Diggin' Up Bones #1 / No Place Like Home #2
Very Important Song As It Changed Our Direction
1990's - Toby Keith - How Do You Like Me Now (1999)
I like albums that have a significance and this one does. When Toby Keith recorded and released this album it was a new day. This was his fifth album and he had moved to a new record label. The first song off this project, When Love Fades was disappointing on the charts. But the second hit, the title track was a gigantic hit, and everything changed. The title song, spent 5 weeks at number one, and became a more than a song, it became a catch phrase and a favorite of many for years to come. Keith's career really was shoved into high gear with this album, and he then went on a run with a new image and a more dominant sound. He took the mantle and became the face of Country, as this album moved Keith from a star to mega star, and for the next few years he was at the top of the format. As many great songs as he has had, How Do You Like Me Now, is the dream song every artist would love to have.
Singles - When Love Fades #44 / How Do You Like Me Now #1 / Country Comes To Town #4 / You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like That #1
Career Changing Song And Album
2000's - Drive - Alan Jackson (2002)
Alan Jackson couldn't do a whole lot wrong at this time. He had been a hit maker for years and was at the top of the format and charts for much of it. But this album is loved and is considered maybe his best overall album. The year this was out, Jackson was nominated for ten ACM awards. This sold a ton and overall this album really resonated with fans. This became one of the most popular and best albums of the entire decade, and I think this is the album that defined him in his career. Four big songs off of it and even a song, Designated Drinker went to #44 and was not even released as a hit. Jackson had been around since 1989 of course but this album 13 years later is the crown jewel of his remarkable career. His world debut of this song below on the CMA's is one of the greatest moments in our history. He made us all stop and take notice with this song. We should all remember the gigantic star he was for a long time.
Singles - Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning #1 / Drive #1 / Work In Progress #3 / That 'd Be Alright #2
Career Moment For A Country Legend
2010's - Speak Now - Taylor Swift (2010)
I know Taylor Swift is a polarizing figure in our format. Of course she has left us with great success since. But we have to remember, she was ours once and was a force in popularity, sales and brought us millions of young fans. This album was a bridge for her. She had grown up a lot and there is a more mature overall sound here both in music and subject matter. This album had a bunch of hits and sold a huge amount too. In fact, this sold a over a million in its first week out, and set records at the time that she would later break with subsequent albums. Whether you like(d) her or not, her success was undeniable and her sound unique. The single Back To December on this album to me, is still the best song of her career by a mile - and was a big hit. True, she did leave us a few years later to go pop, but I have no problem with that. She did it right. She announced it, she did it, and didn't use us as a safety net. She flipped her career in a new direction without trying to fool or lie to us. I respect that - and her insane success of her early country career to me, is culminated with this great album.
Singles - Mine #3 / Back To December #6 / Mean #11 / The Story Of Us #44 / Sparks Fly #17 / Ours #13
Incredible Song - Vulnerable, And A New Grown Up Sound
Wild Card - Willie Nelson - Stardust (1978)
Talk about significant, this album is simply sensational. I know it's older and very different than most country albums, but this is a work of art. This is a collection of classic standards that Willie does magnificently, and with a simplicity that is brilliant. This project was a record setter for many reasons. It spent over a decade continuously on the all genre albums chart, (around 800 straight weeks) won Grammy's, and was named the best country album for 1978. I think this album is mandatory owning for anyone. I feel this is one of the best albums ever recorded no matter what music you love. Classic standards, sung by an American Icon, with the help of some of the best people in the music business. Stardust is quite frankly a diamond of an album. This as much as any project propelled Willie to legendary status that he has never relinquished. Multi platinum many times over, one of Rolling Stones Greatest Albums Ever, this should be in every collection. The singles listed below don't really tell the story of Stardust. Every single song is terrific.
Singles - Georgia On My Mind #1 / Blue Skies #1 / All Of Me #3 / September Song #15