Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, and in the MP3 player. Today's Classic Album Review looks back at a March, 1966 release from the legendary Connie Smith. Miss Smith Goes To Nashville was Connie's third RCA Victor release, and her third top ten album, peaking at number two, her first album to fail to reach number one. The album contained two of her top ten singles, as well, "If I Talk To Him" and "Nobody But A Fool (Would Love You)".
It's a very good opening to this album, with "Back In My Baby's Arms Again". I really like this track, which helps set the tone for the album. It has a Buck Owens "freight train"-style rhythm to it, and a strong Owens feel to the writing, as well.
"Go Ahead And Make Me Cry" is a slower tempo, nice little song, but not anything special. Though the song, itself, is rather ordinary, Connie Smith's vocals are outstanding, here.
The next track features Connie Smith as the girl who just got a break-up letter, but can't face the heartbreak, so she tells the post man that it's for someone else by the same name. You can just hear the heartbreak being held back in her vocals, trying to deny it, but knowing it's there. "Same As Mine" is an interesting song, but the highlight is her vocal work.
"If I Talk To Him Was the fifth Country 40 and fourth top ten single, for Connie Smith, peaking at four in late 1965. It's a bouncy track, with a rather lite feel to it.
Side one ends with a good ballad in "I Don't Have Anyplace To Go". The highlight of this track is how Connie Smith sings the refrain, reminding us that she could bend a note as good as anyone, in fact, better than most. A mid tempo track.
With side one concluded, the record flips over for side two, which opens with "I'll Never Get Over Loving You", a track that Connie Smith also wrote, in addition to being one of her best performances on the album.
The bouncy "Holdin' On" is an average track that left a neutral feeling to me. I didn't not like it, but at the same time, it failed to really grab my attention.
"Nobody But A Fool" is one of my all-time Connie Smith faves. An early 1966 top ten hit, the lite, yet driving rhythm is stellar, and the lyrics are cleverly amusing. Plus, a melody that is infectious and stays with you.
I also have to call "For Better Or For Worse" one that falls on the average side, though the refrain does contain a decent hook. Again, nothing to complain about, performance wise, from Connie Smith, just the song, itself, isn't quite to the level as the album's best.
On the other hand, one would be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with "Will The Real Me Please Stop Crying". This quick-paced number features a great melody, handled with excellence by Connie Smith.
I mention, from time to time, about what I feel is the importance of a good ending track and how it can effect the overall feel of the album. You can have ten average songs, and then the final track is a classic, the album seems better, to the listener, at the end. Or, you can have ten killer songs and a stinker for a finale, that can leave the listener with a lower opinion than the overall body of work deserves. Here, you get a fine ending track, with "If You Won't Tell On Me", which is a bouncy, infectious melody that will tend to stick in your head. Good end to this disc.
Originally released in both stereo and mono versions, Miss Smith Goes To Nashville has actually been on CD, having been issued as a "two-fer" with her self-titled debut album. Though now out of print, you might be able to find a used copy of this release. As for original vinyl, most of the copies I found were pretty decently priced, ranging from $5 to $20.
My pick for Standout Track goes to "Nobody But A Fool", while my Hidden Gem has to be "Back In My Baby's Arms Again". I give "Holdin' On" my Weakest Track, as it just didn't do anything to grab or hold my attention.
Overall, a very good and entertaining album to listen to. It contains a nice mix of tempo, ranging from medium-slow to fast. The songs are also good quality, coming from top songwriters of the era like Bill Anderson, A. L. "Doodle" Owens, and Dallas Frazier. The compositions are different enough that, even with similar arrangements, there's no feeling of sameness, at all. And then, there are the vocals of Connie Smith. I admit that I'm a big fan of her music, and when you listen to this album, it's easy to see why not only me, but many others have that opinion. Simply outstanding vocal work. She can belt it out, but also hold back, when the mood calls for it, and in either form, the pitch and diction are dead-on. It seems that our most recent reviews have all been good albums, and this one continues that trend. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Michael is a blogger and radio host whose passion lies in classic Country music. His Ultimate Twang blog features reviews of vintage Country music albums, along with spotlighting singles from Country music history. All of the reviews can be seen at http://ultimatetwang.com/blog/. In addition, he hosts a weekly classic Country music show, also titled Ultimate Twang, on the online radio station, Asheville Free Media. The show is heard live, worldwide, every Thursday afternoon at 4p EST, plus can be replayed anytime. http://ashevillefm.org/.