This week, Part 4 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. This is the last part of this series. I have played all these songs and albums on the radio. (Here's Part One) - (And Part Two) - (Part 3 as well) - if you missed them.
Desert Island Country Island Albums - Part 4 (Final Part)
The 1980's - (1981) Merle Haggard - Big City
This was a huge success for a star that had been around for years. He signed with a new record label and it was the shot in the arm he needed. This re-energized his career, and sent him on a very nice 5 year run in the 1980's that was very different than his previous 15 years. This album was a new path, and in my view was the beginning of the best music of his career. It was such a great re-invention, as a lot of younger fans found Haggard and realized that he was pretty darn good, and not just their parents favorite. I saw Haggard with Brooks And Dunn at Blossom a number of years ago and he was terrific, and was still riding the redesigned sound that this album provided. This album also focuses on the struggles of the common man, as an ugly recession was devastating factory workers that year, it was exceedingly timely. I had just begun my country radio career at my first country radio station WOBL in Oberlin, Ohio, and this album made a huge impact on me. Are The Good Times Really Over For Good, sung by this American Icon, became a loved early 80's anthem.
Singles - My Favorite Memory #1 / Big City #1 / Are The Good Times Really Over For Good #2
Very Powerful Song!
The 1990's - (1998) Faith Hill - Faith
Sometimes we forget just how big a star and album actually were. This may be the best example I can think of in country. This album to me was the zenith of Faiths wonderful run through the 1990's. This sold six million copies and spawned a lot of hit songs. It also launched a "new" Faith, more mainstream, and her fans - and her new fans loved it. This Kiss was the biggest song she ever had, and drove the insane sales of this album. There is probably no better example of the perfect song, done by the perfect artist, at the perfect time in her life. We believed every word of that song, and we could sense her sincere happiness, her passion for the song, this project, and her life. I feel many artists could benefit from her example here. Fans love passion, positivity and being happy. Far more people like music to lift them up rather than to slap others down, as a little bit of that goes a very long way. This is a big, big album.
Singles - This Kiss #1 / Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me #3 / Let Me Let Go #1 / Love Ain't Like That #12 / The Secret Of Life #4
This Song Drove This Album To Incredible Heights!
The 2000's - (2005) Dierks Bentley - Modern Day Drifter
Dierks Bentley has recorded a bunch of really good albums. And even though this was not his first album, I feel this is where the really great albums began. This was his second album, and this is proof yet again that the second album is the one that decides if you're gonna hang around or not. This gave us really great songs that are still real radio and concert favorites all these years later. It's hard to imagine that he has been around 20 years now. This is a platinum album a couple times over, and really established him as a legit star that had a golden future. Bentley has a real love of traditional country and this is a fantastic mix of old school in music and lyric, and a newer school sound. Great, great album.
Singles - A Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do #3 / Come A Little Closer #1 / Settle For A Slowdown #1
A Real Favorite On The Radio, Video And Concerts! (Very Waylon-Like)
The 2010's - (2017) Luke Combs - This Ones For You
It isn't often that someone like Luke Combs shows up and breathes new life into an already successful format that was not gasping for air. But that's exactly what Luke Combs did. He sang on our morning show here at WQMX, just as Hurricane was hitting the radio. Luke is a regular guy with more than incredible talent. After Hurricane was #1, I think the next single absolutely solidified his place as not only a real contender, but a superstar. When It Rains It Pours, is one of the great country songs of this century, and after it when #1 the floodgates flew open and we had a new mega star. This album was number one for 50 consecutive weeks and that tied Shania's, Come On Over. (In Part 3) Combs along with Jon Pardi (Also in Part 3) have re-energized the traditional country fan and that's a big deal. This album is sensational and so is he. Mandatory owning.
Singles - Hurricane #1 / When It Rains It Pours #1 / One Number Away #1 / She Got The Best Of Me #1 / Beautiful Crazy #1
What A Hit - Look At The Views!!
Wild Card - (1983) Earl Thomas Conley - Don't Make It Easy For Me
This was a record setting album that only made country music history, but music history. It was ETC's third album on RCA records, and was a huge success. This became the first studio album in recorded music history to have four consecutive number one songs on it. Not the Beatles, not Micheal Jackson, not Bing Crosby, not Elvis, not anyone. Should be noted it has been done since, but not often (Luke Combs and a few others). Casey Casem spotlighted Conley on American Top 40 that year chronicling his historic feat. Conley was a real up and and comer at the time and this album sent him on a truly incredible run through the 80's. In fact, the singles from this album were the first of 17 consecutive #1's for him, that string finally ended in 1989. He had 20 #1's overall. This is a mix of many kinds of music, with two common denominators, Conley's country voice, and the best people in Nashville in every aspect, putting this project together. Everyone should own this album.
Singles - Your Love's On The Line #1 / Holding Her, And Loving You #1 / Don't Make It Easy For Me #1 / Angel In Disguise #1
The First Of Seventeen Consecutive Number One Songs 1983-1989