Gene Watson has been singing professionally since the late 1950s and has been a country music album recording artist since the late 1960s.
Gene Watson’s contribution to the country music genre is immeasurable.
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Country Music People have long ago nailed its colours to the mast where Gene Watson is concerned.
CMP has rigorously championed Gene Watson’s cause down through the years and have published a number of reviews of his album releases.
All reviews have been reproduced with the kind permission of Country Music People.
This review of ‘Memories to Burn & Starting New Memories‘ (Hux Records, 2011) by Duncan Warwick was published in the June 2011 issue of Country Music People, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publishers.
Album Review by Duncan Warwick
(**** out of 5)
‘As Hux continue to make the Gene Watson catalogue available on CD for the first time, we have a two-fer of ‘Memories to Burn‘ (Epic Records, 1985) from 1985 and ‘Starting New Memories‘ (Epic Records, 1986) from 1986, both from a relatively brief spell at Epic.
Most likely brief as neither of these albums achieved the kind of success that one might associate with Gene Watson around that time – ‘Memories to Burn‘ (Epic Records, 1985) peaked at No.35 and ‘Starting New Memories‘ (Epic Records, 1986) reached No.49.
Singles were also not as successful as they should have been, with the first single from ‘Memories to Burn‘ (Epic Records, 1985) – ‘Cold Summer Day In Georgia’ – managing a high of No.24 on the Billboard chart.
With hindsight, maybe they should have released ‘The Note’. In my mind, it’s a classic, and it wasn’t until I was checking some facts for this review that I realised only Daryle Singletary (Wednesday 10 March 1971 – Monday 12 February 2018) has charted the song (No.28, 1998).
Doug Supernaw (Monday 26 September 1960 – Friday 13 November 2020) also did a pretty good version (included on ‘You Still Got Me’ for Giant Records in 1995).
Another great track is ‘Stranger In Our House Tonight’, a beautiful waltz perfectly suited to Gene’s style but that was never a single either.
However, ‘Memories To Burn’, the second single, did rather better, peaking at No.5, but surprisingly, another classic song, ‘Carmen’, could only manage No.32. I’ve got a feeling the song went on to become something of a line-dance favourite, but there is no denying that its Mexican flavour is irresistible.
Another song which has been covered by several artists is ‘I Want My Rib Back’. It still raises a smile every time I hear the line ‘I won’t let evolution make a monkey out of me’, but I can’t say it is a song I’ve ever particularly liked, and here there is just a bit too much input from the backing singers making it a bit twee.
‘Starting New Memories‘ (Epic Records, 1986) did less well single-wise, with two released. Unbelievably, the stone country ‘Bottle of Tears’ (‘I battled my way to the top and I bottled my way to the bottom’) only made it to No.50, whilst the jaunty two-stepper ‘Everything I Used To Do’ managed a chart high of No.29. A terrific song about how the singer is doing everything he used to do (smoking, drinking) ‘except loving you’.
Aside from the singles, there are some fabulous songs tucked away on these albums. The shuffle, ‘I Saved Your Place’, I really enjoyed, and ‘Speak of The Devil’ is pure Gene Watson and deserving of classic status.
Another highlight is ‘Almost Like Having You Here’. Wonderful song with the great line ‘It feels so bad when you leave me alone, it’s almost like having you here’.
I’d quite happily let Gene Watson sing me the Houston telephone directory, and I welcome these albums by one of my all-time favourite singers into my collection with open arms, but to be fair, they are not quite as essential as the earlier Hux releases’.
Country Music People