Gene Watson’s ‘The Good Ole Days’ (Step One Records, 1996): Country Music People Review: February 1997

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.

It is here where you have an opportunity to read a review of Gene Watson’s ‘The Good Ole Days‘ (Step One Records, 1996), as published in the January 1997 issue of Country Music People.

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Country Music People have long ago nailed its colours to the mast where Gene Watson is concerned.

 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.

The Good Ole Days‘ (Step One Records, 1996)
Country Music PeopleJanuary 1997

This review of ‘The Good Ole Days‘ (Step One Records, 1996) by Craig Baguley was published in the January 1997 issue of Country Music People, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the publishers.

Album Review by Craig Baguley
(8 out of 10)
‘Gene Watson’s second album for Step One proves yet again that the wider country music world is missing out on one of the greatest artists of the genre.

On one hand, I’d love to see the impossible happen with Watson on a major label and back high in the charts; on the other, I’ve always loved Ray Pennington‘s productions, and this blend of straight country and fine western swing is no exception.

What also impresses me about Pennington (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020) his ability as a songwriter.  Of course, the fact that so many Pennington compositions appear on Step One recordings has not a little to do with the fact that he’s head man at the label.

With other producers, this would customarily lead to mundanity, but not so with Ray (Friday 22 December 1933 – Wednesday 7 October 2020).  He’s one of the good ol’ boys from way back who knows what a country song’s all about, and when his writing is combined with the artistry of a singer like Gene Watson, magic happens.

Take the three swing numbers, ‘The Good Ole Days Are Right Now’, ‘You Pushed Me To The Limit’ and ‘Where I’m Concerned’ – excellent band arrangements and spot-on vocals from Gene make for an irresistible formula.

I suspect the musicians had a ball, too, particularly Buddy Emmons (Wednesday 27 January 1937 – Wednesday 29 July 2015) on steel, because western swing of this calibre is being cut nowhere else in Nashville these days.

On ballads, too, Watson is a killer, up there with George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 – Friday 26 April 2013) and Vern Gosdin (Sunday 5 August 1934 – Tuesday 28 April 2009), and his vocal attack on ‘Change Her Mind’ proves he’s still in magnificent form.

As a bonus for yours truly, he’s also re-cut probably my favourite Gene Watson track ever, the inimitable Joe Allen ballad, ‘I Don’t Need A Thing At All’, though memory suggests his original cut had the slight edge.

Gene’s also re-recorded his big hits from 1975 and 1982 respectively, the steamy ‘Love In The Hot Afternoon’ (together now, in your best low voice, ‘Filet, Gumbo’) and ‘Speak Softly (You’re Talking To My Heart)’, though I would have preferred two more originals rather than a replay of these so-well-known tunes.

It’s good to see the name of Tommy Collins (Sunday 28 September 1930 – Tuesday 14 March 2000) up there in the co-writer credits on ‘The Man That Broke Your Heart’, a mid-tempo mover about a guy thankful to the title’s protagonist for walking out on his lady so he could walk in (‘if I met him, what the heck, well, I’d hug his old red neck’).

Gene also offers a fine version of the old Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013) slow shuffle, ‘Getting Over You Again’, with Buddy Emmons (Wednesday 27 January 1937 – Wednesday 29 July 2015) adding a lovely steel backup.

If only we could have a new Gene Watson album every six months…’

Craig Baguley
Country Music People
January 1997