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RONNIE MILSAP —OUT WHERE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS ARE GLOWING* THERE’S NO GETTIN’ OVER ME* KEYED UP* ONE MORE TRY FOR LOVE (BGO Records)

www.bgo-records.com

Ronnie Milsap owed his success to slick productions, love songs and a faultless singing voices. His effortless delivery won him favour during most of the 1970s and 1980s. It is most fitting that this four-LP (1981-1984) set squeezed onto 2 cds opens with his tribute to a man who possessed the finest and smoothest set of pipes to represent country music, Gentleman Jim Reeves. No one, just no one apart from a few songs from Milsap and of a more diverse nature, Vince Gill have come close to matching the man with the velvet tones. 

With four string interludes, and one piece featuring guitar and Dobro the 12-song set has stood the test of time better than anticipated. Plus the fact there’s some tasty pedal steel (Hal Rugg, John Hughey) and piano (Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins, Milsap) in the mix doesn’t harm it none. As for the songs, Milsap pulls out all the stops on “I’m Getting Better”, it sounds and feels like the song was written for him. The title-track “Out Where The Bright Lights Are Glowing” is one of two songs added to songs from the Jim Reeves’ songbook, “I Won’t Forget You” is the other. “When Two Worlds Collide” likewise has the feeling that it was made for him. Milsap was most certainly in his element recording this album. Buoyed by his success of many hit singles and CMA Awards, his other three albums likewise enjoyed success as country music was going through a big cross-over period. The Country Traditionalist era was yet to take place, his music combined country, pop and slices of soul to give him a good living.   

His music was slow, a little laboured as the slickness goes one-step too far for traditional country music fans, but as noted it reflected the times. As you had the likes of Barbara Mandrell, Lee Greenwood, Mark Gray and Earl Thomas Conley among other slick performers enjoy country single success. Going back to Out Where The Bright Lights Are Glowing Milsap does a solid version of “He’ll Have To Go” (although my favourite has to be that of Ry Cooder!). There’s No Getting’ Over Me contains the jaunty title-track "(There’s) No Getting’ Over Me” to go with a like-minded up beat “Jesus Is Your Ticket To Heaven”. Joined by a nicely shaped heavenly choir the latter sets a good benchmark. On partnered with smooth, warm and friendly pop country song “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World” and delicate love ballads “It’s Written All Over Your Face” and “Happens Every Time (I Think Of You)”, and a steel guitar warmed lazy paced “I Live My Whole Life At Night” he performs music steeped in big productions, and pop leaning. A fashion his followers admired most.

After closing the first disc with the hit “Stranger In My House” (from Keyed Up) the second CD continues with a series of outstanding performances. Ranging from “Don’t Your Mem’ry Ever Sleep At Night” to fun number “I’m Just A Redneck At Heart”. This as he performs something most different for him, and though it does sound more like something Hank Williams Jr would have been more comfortable with lyrically, it is never-the-less a pleasing diversion. Big ballad “Like Children I Have Known” is a clever song (Daduario, Pfrimmer), and one Milsap performs immaculately. His sensitive handling is a demonstration that given the material, he could deliver a powerful ballad. Albeit, a little more feeling wouldn’t have come amiss, and though my remark might sound a little random John O’Regan’s liner notes point out that in Milsap’s autobiography he states, ‘I’m a singer, not a vocal stylist. My breathing is correct; my enunciation is precise. Because of that I can sing anybody’s music. I can sing whatever the times, and the trends demand.’ Who am I to ague. However, the fact remains, he didn’t allow himself to become lost in the lyrics, and live the scenario. Something that undoubtedly lost him a bunch of country fans.           

  

One More Try For Love follows the theme, lots of production and a selection of mellow love songs performed in the style he was known for Milsap’s offers another effortless set of work. Nothing exceptional, but it was the 1980s and gentle pop  was in vogue, just perfect for his songs. “She Loves My Car” has him up the tempo, and it works well, and it has in “Prisoner Of The Highway” a worthy compatriot as a feel of both motion and evening time is prompted. He closes the record with a smooth duet with the rarely heard, Lisa Silver. If nothing else it brings another voice to the record, though musically nothing changed even though a little sax is utilised to go with his piano. Interesting to a point, but not to the degree I wished they had made an album together.  

                                                                                                     Maurice Hope     

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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