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 Gene Watson’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016) by Duncan Warwick was published in the February 2016 issue of Country Music People, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publishers.
Album Review by Duncan Warwick
CD of the Month
(***** out of 5)
‘The title of Gene Watson’s latest album stands proudly like the mission statement it is meant to be. It’s not just Real Country Music, it’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ and the full stops are important in adding to the impact.
Not that the singer from Palestine, Texas has ever been anything else.
In the forty years since he had his first chart hit, Watson has proved himself not just loyal to the genre but also to be one of the finest singers ever to grace country music. Additionally, he sure knows how to pick a song and he’s picked some blinders for this record.
The Kristofferson song, ‘Enough For You’, which opens the album sets the scene for a bunch of songs that more than live up to the promise of the album’s title.
Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013) couldn’t have made a better job of it, but he sure would have approved of the arrangement.
Producer Dirk Johnson also plays piano and keyboards on the project, so there is enough piano to complimentat the abundance of fiddle and steel to make you think this might have come from the mid-70s when Country Music Was Real.
If I were to include a dream-team to write a song, it would probably go something like this: Hank Cochran (Friday 2 August 1935 – Thursday 15 July 2010), Dean Dillon and Keith Whitley (Thursday 1 July 1954 – Tuesday 9 May 1989), which is just how it is on ‘She Never Got Me Over You’, a song that ecapsulates everything that is truly great about country music in a little over three minutes.
Mark Chesnutt nailed the song a few years back, including the track on ‘Rollin’ With The Flow’ (Lofton Creek Records, 2008), and Watson does likewise here, albeit in a slightly smoother style.
George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 – Friday 26 April 2013) cut the Bucky Jones / Curly Putman (Thursday 20 November 1930 – Sunday 30 October 2016) song ‘Couldn’t Love Have Picked a Better Place To Die’, and included the track on ‘Still The Same Ole Me’ (Epic Records, 1981).
Never a single for Jones, it was the first record charted by Clinton Gregory at the beginning of the ’90s (No.64, 1991), who included the track on ‘Music ‘N’ Me’ (Step One Records, 1990), but let me tell you folks, this version trumps them all.
There are also a couple of Larry Gatlin songs, ‘Help Me’ and ‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’, just in case we needed reminding of his songwriting talents, and both are perfect for Watson.
Even the Nat King Cole (Monday 17 March 1919 – Monday 15 February 1965) biggie, ‘Ramblin’ Rose’, doesn’t sound out of place here.
I’ve always liked the song anyway, and there have been country versions before by Hank Snow (Saturday 9 May 1914 – Monday 20 December 1999), Johnny Lee and Sonny James (Wednesday 1 May 1929 – Monday 22 February 2016), but it couldn’t be any more country than it is here.
‘A Girl I Used To Know’ is a wonderful David Ball song not to be confused with ‘Just A Girl I Used To Know’, while Conway Twitty’s No.3 from 1980 – ‘A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn’ – is a little more lush than the original version. I liked it. A lot.
‘Ashes To Ashes’ is not some timely tribute to David Bowie (Wednesday 8 January 1947 – Sunday 10 January 2016) (which might be fun), but a killer song that Gene has cut previously on his ‘Honky Tonk Crazy‘ (Epic Records, 1987) album nearly thirty years ago.
It was also great to see a Nat Stuckey (Sunday 17 December 1933 – Wednesday 24 August 1988) song included (‘All My Tomorrows’) and it’s all pretty ballad heavy until the final track, but the slow, hurtin’ country songs are exactly when Gene Watson is at his absolute best.
I can recall many a great Gene Watson album and this is right up there with the best of them. Crikey, it’s only January and I already have a contender for the best of the year’.
Country Music People