RIDICULOUS DOLLY DISCOGRAPHY!
(From Roctober #20, 1997)
Well, what can you say about Dolly Parton? She's definitely one of the all time greats, and she's achieved artistic, popular and monetary success on levels few others have. There's another area where she's excelled remarkably. . .prolificity! Rather than recount Dolly's career in a long introduction, lets let her humongous record catalogue do the talking. To review her 100 plus records, and a bunch of movies, we've recruited an all star lineup of reviewers. Not all of them agree and some things will be written in shorter, longer, glibber, meaner, nicer, technical-er or blunter terms than others, but their all good! Reviewers: Jake Austen (JA) Jack Geezer (JG) Chris Ligon (CL) Heather McAdams (HM) James Porter (JP) Jacqueline Stewart (JS) Waymon Timbsdayle (WT) Harry Young (HY). Enjoy!
"Puppy Love" b/w "Girl Left Alone" (Goldband, 1959) Many country stars of the sixties and seventies started out doing the Rockabilly thing, and Dolly was no exception. Her Goldband single sounds like Brenda Lee on welfare. Little Billy Earl (who made some killer Rockabilly 45's himself for the same label) and his band of Louisiana swamp dogs back her up on both sides, a far cry from the Nashville cats that Brenda Lee usually recorded with. She sounds totally at home on "Puppy Love". Not as saccharine as the title, the song itself is every bit the equal of Wanda Jackson's rockers of the same era. She's doing a down-and-out honky-tonk weeper on the flip, and she sounds totally out of her 13-year-old element. At times her uncontrolled vocals sound like Darla from the Little Rascals, and an older singer like Kitty Wells could've knocked this out with more authority. Get past the novelty of a preteen future star and you've got a great Rockabilly/Country single on your hands. (JP)
"It's Sure Gonna Hurt" b/w "The Love You Gave" (Mercury 1962) A few years after cutting her raw Rockabilly single Dolly and her uncle Bill Owens landed a nice publishing deal with Tree and a single deal with Mercury. The A-Side was written by Dolly and Bill, and while the sentiment might still have an adolescent perspective ("It may not kill me/but it's sure gonna hurt"), the production is a far cry from her debut, utilizing the Mercury Orchestra and The Merry Melody singers. They also recorded a third song, unissued, called "Nobody But You," and Dolly recalls recording 'I Wasted My Tears (When I Cried Over You)," which isn't in the Mercury log. This is really the rarest Dolly record, because unlike the Goldband single which was reissued plenty, Mercury has nothing to gain by digging this out. It got regional airplay, but little else, and Dolly was dropped. She'd be back though! (WT)
Hits Made Famous By Country Queens (Faye Tucker sings Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton Sings Kitty Wells) (Somerset 1963) I love sound a-like albums. I always think of the kid whose mom bought him the Beatles sound alike records and he listened and listened and from then on every time he heard the Beatles' versions it sounded wrong to him. First of all, believe you me, Kitty's and Patsy's names are printed plenty bigger and bolder than Dolly's and Faye's. Though this record was reworked and reissued plenty of times with Dolly's name printed real big, the original issue was before she broke, and she must have just recorded and signed the rights to this to make a few bucks. As far as the performance, Faye actually does a decent impersonation, going all out Liann Rimes on a couple of numbers, but Dolly doesn't really sound like Kitty Wells, and her high (sped up?) voice doesn't have her own signature sound either. It sounds pretty good though, and in addition to doing the greatest answer song of all time ("It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels") she does one of my favorites from a genre long gone, the tragic child story-song. In "Letter To Heaven" a little girl has her daddy write a letter to her mom in Heaven for her, where she hopes they'll see each other soon. As she runs across the street to the mailbox she gets hit by a truck. Speaking of tragic kids, one of the other Somerset records has an obscure Red Sovine doing the hits of Tennessee Ernie Ford! (JA)
Country And Western Soul (Faye Tucker and Dolly Parton) (Somerset 1963) Dolly's still singing Kitty Wells and Faye is just doing her thing. If Dolly spent more than two sessions recording all these tracks I'd be surprised. I wonder why they thought she was such a good Kitty Wells impersonator? (WT)
Hello I'm Dolly (Monument 1967) This is a wonderful debut album. The lead track, "Dumb Blonde," was a minor hit, and though Dolly didn't write it, it's a perfect song for her, and it really sets the tone of this album. As she declares, "Just because I'm blonde don't mean I'm dumb, and this dumb blonde ain't nobody's fool," she establishes herself as a growling ass-kicker of a country diva, along the lines of Wanda Jackson. She's not standing by her man as much as going off on him and her rivals for his affection. She declares in "I Don't Wanna Throw Rice," that she'd rather throw rocks at the girl marrying her love, and lists other graphic tortures she's contemplating. In "Your Ole Handy Man" she lays it on the line that she's through with household bullshit. Most of the songs are written by Dolly and her uncle Bill Owens, and the songwriting is superb. The classic C&W punnery/wordplay on "Something Fishy" about a husband's alleged fishing trips ("I guess some large mouth bass left that lipstick on your shirt") and the overall craftsmanship of the catchy powerful tunes is classic C&W, yet hints at something new going on. The material on this fantastic debut, coupled with her youthful, natural haired beauty which the cover art showcases, make it no surprise that she caught the ears and eyes of Porter Wagoner and RCA. (JA)
Just Between You and Me (w/Porter Wagoner)(RCA 1968) This is the first Porter and Dolly duet album, and it establishes the formula pretty well. There's one hit single it's based around ("The Last Thing On My Mind," which made it to Country #7) and the rest of the album is filled with short, sometimes interesting cuts mostly written by Dolly and Porter. Their odd coupling of voices, with her clear, innocent yet confident voice, and his professional, almost leering voice, dripping with odd personality, comes together in excellent harmony in ways that suggest legitimate love and also at times, legitimate, tangible conflict and disdain. Nothing really spectacular on this record, but on the cover, in casual sweaters and each others arms, they look as youthful as they ever will together. (WT)
Just Because I'm A Woman (RCA 1968) There's some good stuff on this Dolly solo RCA debut, but not as brilliant as what she was gonna come up with a little later. All her confidence and craftsmanship is evident though, and she looks real purty on the cover. (WT)
Dolly Parton Sings (a/k/a Dolly Parton Sings Country Oldies) (Alshire 1968) In 1963 Dolly put out two records with the mystery woman, Miss Faye Tucker, where each would sing one side of the album. Dolly was doing Kitty Wells songs exclusively and this record appears to be an exact re-release of her songs on "Hits Made Famous By Country Queens," so if you have that one there's no need to buy this one. One year after Dolly put out her big debut record, "Hello I'm Dolly," I guess the record company decided they could clean up by re-releasing this stuff she did as a teenager when she was virtually unknown.
There are six tunes on the Dolly side of the album, two of which are so stunningly beautiful and direct hey make Liann Rimes sound like Don Bowman. These two songs are worth the price of the record (especially if you get it used for a buck like I did) and literally send chills up and down my backbone when I play them. They are the classic Kitty hits, "It Wasn't God Who made Honky Tonk Angels" and "Making Believe." It is truly mind blowing to hear Dolly's voice at such a young age
The rest of the Dolly songs include, "Release Me," "Two Little Orphans" (A little too sentimental), "Letter to Heaven" (Sounds too much like "Away In The Manger") and "Little Blossom," which didn't really float my boat. The Faye Tucker side is totally forgettable and anybody who tries to pass off "Bill Bailey Please Come Home" as a lousy Rockabilly song should be forgotten, which apparently is what she has been, as I wasted fifteen minutes of my life trying to look her up in all my Country books and never found her name anywhere.
If you're the type of person who can shell out the dough for a record with two great songs on it, then go for it. Otherwise, get someone with the record to tape the two good songs for your files and go buy a pizza with the money you saved. (HM)
Just The Two Of Us (W/Porter (RCA 1968) ***1. The best thing about this record is there are less strings and more fiddles and pedal steel action than a lot of the Porter and Dolly LPs, although still not enough for my Hillbilly tastes. As usual with any of their records, the harmony is consistently good, so it really comes down to their choice of songs, instrumentation and production values. The very best songs on the record are Merle Haggard's "Somewhere Between," "Slip Away Today" and "Holdin' On To Nothin'." Dolly sounds incredible in their version of "Dark End Of The Street" but Porter sounds like he's going through the motions, (like he needs to check out The Flying Burrito Brothers' version on their Guilded Palace Of Sin record out the following year). They also need to lose that trickling little piano and trade it in for the tortured, soulful, agonizing sounds a pedal steel can provide. There are two tear jerkers with recitations, both written by Parton, "The Party," about a couple coming home from a party, where they tell a lot of dirty jokes, only to find their house on fire with their children inside. "Jeannie's Afraid Of The Dark" is about a child who is afraid of being buried. She of course dies too and they put an eternal flame on her grave to help with her phobia. The worst three songs are "I Can," which has this weird little guitar riff that sounds exactly like The Beatles' "I Feel Fine," and two "schedule songs,"2 "I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew" and "We'll Get Ahead Some Day." I like this record though, as it has decent production values, lots of acoustic instruments and of course the unbelievable harmony that Dolly and Porter are famous for. This album came out in 1968, when Porter had his own TV show, "The Porter Wagoner Show," in which Dolly replaced Norma Jean and became Porter's regular "girl singer," so she was just getting started and barely drinking age when this record hit the stores. (HM)
Dolly Parton and George Jones (Starday 1968) The same Dolly tracks from the Kitty Wells thing and not even George's Rockabilly stuff! Not worth what the price guides say.
In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad) (RCA 1969) ****1 This record is really fresh. Dolly's voice is clear as a bell and it has lots of fiddle, pedal steel and guitar pickin', not to mention the terrific Gospel piano at the beginning of one of my favorite songs, "Fresh Out Of Forgiveness." Dolly really belts out this 'I'm not gonna take it anymore' song with a ton of soul. I like the feminist attitude of this song and a lot of the others on this record. Anyone who doesn't think Dolly has done much for the women's movement needs to get the headphones out and spend some time listening to the powerful lyrics of the following songs written by Dolly herself.
Excerpt from "Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind"-But I would rather live alone then live with someone who doesn't love me./And I'd rather have you go then stay and put me down by thinking you're above me./Our love affair is so wound up, it's best that we unwind./And if you don't love me, leave me and don't let it trouble your mind.
Excerpt from "He's a Go Getter" (Probably Dolly's funniest song!)- He's a go getter, he's a go getter/When his wife gets off from work.......He'll go get 'er.
Definitely one of my favorite Dolly records, I like its' "folksy" feel which is reflective of the late sixties when it came out, and like I said, reflective also of her feminist sentiments at the close of this turbulent yet liberating bra and draft card burning decade. Other highlights include Dolly's version of John D. Loudermilk's "It's My Time" and two killer songs, "Always The First Time" and "Mama Say A Prayer" written by Parton herself, about a girl in the city alone where "evil eyes search the night for lonely girls like me." The emphasis on writing is apparent here as so many songs read like poetry which was so big back in the hippy days. There are decent covers of "D.I.V.O.R.C.E.," "Caroll County Accident," and Tom T. Hall's megahit for Jeannie C. Riley, "Harper Valley P.T.A.." Dolly sounds great on this one so my advice is be a go getter. When your wife gets off work, go get 'er, take her to your local record store and make her buy you a copy. (HM)
Always, Always (w/Porter) (RCA 1969) Not their best record. The material theoretically is good, with the usual true love, lost love and dead children songs (the example of the latter, "Malena," is about a girl who wanted wings and then got them by dying and being an angel) throughout, but there's no real magic here. I've listened to "Milwaukee, Here I Come," the lead track, a dozen times and I still can't quite figure out what it's about, and even a can't miss chestnut cover, "Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me," is just good, not great. Still an enjoyable listen, but definitely an example of Dolly and Porter hack work. (JA)
My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy (RCA 1969) A really nice album, with clear beautiful vocals. It opens with a very sincere, "In The Ghetto," which now we signature to Elvis, but at the time was really thought of a song with a writer (Mac Davis) that could be interpreted. The title track is a gem and she even gets into the Primate Patch with "The Monkey's Tale!" (WT)
The Fairest Of Them All (RCA 1970) No real hit song standouts on this one that I hear. In the artwork she is looking like the fairest in the land, though many women would argue that Dolly's attributes indicate an unfair distribution, as she got too much beauty, talent, drive and "ummph." (WT)
Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca (RCA 1970) This record declares them to be "The Dynamic Duo Of Country Music". . .and they damn well live up to it on this disc! If you think they looked young on the first album, they outdo themselves by using baby pictures on this cover. (WT)
As Long As I Love (Monument 1970) This record gives me a lot of admiration for Monument. While many would think them sleazy to release all their leftover, inferior Dolly material after RCA made her a star, I'm impressed how well they did in choosing the stronger material for the first album. Actually these songs are pretty decent, all written by Dolly and Bill Owens, but the delivery doesn't have the growl of "Hello, I'm Dolly." Most of these are the weepy women songs that will always be a cash cow of Country, and they're better then most of the herd, but Dolly is far from an average Music Row Mama, and can and does do better. Worth a listen, but not classic. (JA)
Hello I'm Dolly/As Long As I Love You (Monument, I'm not sure what year) Both Monument albums released as a double LP.
A Real Live Dolly (RCA 1970) This is one of my all time favorite Dolly Parton records. She goes back and does a performance at Siever County High School, her alma mater, and the magic here comes from the fact that she's really doing this show for them rather than just recording a live album and choosing to do it there. She does songs she did on the local radio, she makes lots of local references, and when "surprise guest" Porter comes out (after the town declares it "Dolly Parton Day), he brings down the house by evoking the names of local locales like(I'm not making this up) ""Frog Alley," "Possum Holler," and "Boogertown" (I was relieved there wasn't a "Niggertown"). Her rapport with the crowd and their genuine love for her are true pleasures to share. She does a couple of early Monument songs, which is neat for an RCA LP, and she does a great spoken poem about how she wet the mattress as a kid because her mom told her "Bloody Bones" would get her if she didn't stay in bed. During the Porter duet portion we learn that the tragic "Jeannie's Afraid Of The dark" is their most requested number on TV and in concert, and Porter steps aside to let Dolly finish solo doing "How Great Thou Art." You'll really enjoy this record and RCA would be smart to remarket it as it's one of the true gems in their catalogue. (JA)
Once More (w/Porter)(RCA 1970) This is a Dolly and Porter gem. They have a great fighting song ,"Fight And Scratch" (which probably told some truths), they have a great cheatin' tune, "I Know You're Married But I Love You Still," there's an awesome melodramatic story song, "Ragged Angel" and, maybe the best song on the record, the spiritual based "Daddy Was An Oldtime Preacher Man." The harmonies, the arrangements, the performances and the song selection are all tops. Note: On the cover Porter's eyes' just ain't right. I wouldn't have let my daughter be his "girl singer." (JA)
The Best Of Dolly Parton (RCA 1970) Dolly looks real pretty on the cover, with her real hair and a nice red ensemble. A pretty diverse "Best" here, with traditional, originals, Gospel, the whole enchilada. (WT)
The Golden Streets Of Glory (RCA 1971) If you want to get to heaven in 24 minutes, just listen to this fine Gospel album by the angel with the biggest wings of them all. Classics like "How Great Thou Art" and "Wings Of A Dove" and the fantastic "Yes I See God" made a believer out of me! (WT)
Two Of A Kind (w/Porter) (RCA 1971) The one true P&D duet manifesto! 100% Great from start to finish! The divine "Two Of A Kind" ("There's so much between you and me/Like respect honor, admiration and [low-toned dumb guy voice] JEALOUSY"); Walk into "The Flame; the anti-marijuana ballad "The Curse Of The Wild Weed Flower" ("Their minds are all mingled/their thoughts are confused/their minds and their bodies/how they abuse"); Everybody knows there ain't no possum in "Possum Holler" ("Yeah we got married/Just You and me/& Daddy/& Daddy's gun") & the pro-prison love song "There'll Be Love" ("You can lock a man inside a prison wall/You might think he's got no love at all/but somewhere there's someone he's thinkin' of/As long as there's two people/there'll be love"). (HY)
Joshua (RCA 1971) OK, lets get this out of the way first, I don't know who at RCA was in charge, but the painting on the cover of this record clearly belongs on a porno novel. From the back we see a big, hairy guy in boots, looking out his cabin door as he's relaxes in the doorway with a sleazy gangster lean. What he's sizing up is a coy, pubescent version of Dolly. The song is almost as good as the painting, and was her first #1! Nice songs overall, with a lot of the nostalgia themes in full effect, like "Daddy's Moonshine Still." Also, going back to her Kitty Wells knockoff album, she re-does the dead child classic "Letter To Heaven" with a beautiful original arrangement. (JA)
The Best of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner (RCA 1971) There's all the hits here, and unlike her solo hits, these are really period pieces of a classic Nashville era. They aren't as timeless as her strongest solo work, but there's something nice about that. (WT)
Coat Of Many Colors (RCA 1971) Well, this is in many ways a Dolly peak. Of all her nostalgic back home reminiscences, the title track here is arguably her greatest. She tells the tale of the colorful rag coat her mom made for her likening it to Joseph's coat in the old testament. The melodrama of the description of the schoolkids derision is classic. The cover is a painting of a photo of her in the coat, and the back cover is the photo and a hand written letter to us from Dolly describing the event. The success of this would give Dolly the impetus to go all out with these themes over the next few years. The second song on the album is the bouncy, hilarious "Traveling Man" and all the material on the record (all by Dolly or Porter) is above average. A real classic. (JA)
The World Of Dolly Parton (vol. 1&2) (Monument 1972, CBS Special Projects 1988) Rearranged cuts from the two monument LPs
The Right Combination/Burning The Midnight Oil (W/Porter)(RCA 1972) The title of this album is a pretty good indication of how these LPs were really just packages built around singles. That actually allowed more oddball, controversial or idiosyncratic songs to slip in as "padding," which served a prolific and dynamic songwriter like Dolly well. Both of these title songs are pretty great. They were both top 20 Country hits and remarkably "The Right Combination" was P&D's only charting (albeit sub 100) Pop single. Good harmony singing on this album and a lot of fun songs. (WT)
Touch Your Woman (RCA 1972) A Three star effort (out of five), with a cover going about three and a half (woulda gone four but if you look hard you can see that Dolly Parton is not really looking at you, but over her shoulder - this bugs me). Otherwise she's surrounded by pillows which is good and her wig is top of the line, weighing in at four and a half stars.1
As for the music, it's a pretty good sounding record overall, with only a couple of songs suffering because of production. One of these is the title song, "Touch Your Woman." Here the drums are overmiked and the drummer responds with a couple of big rock flourishes that don't seem to fit. Otherwise it's an alright song.
The best songs are two Dolly wrote; "Will He Be Waiting," and "A Little At A Time," the former double tracking her voice allowing for great Dolly-Dolly harmony. Also good is "Love Isn't Free," about a girl and a boy who go to the picture show and see a movie called "Love Is Free," then subsequently wind up at lover's lane where the girl is impregnated and abandoned. Later the girl abandons the baby and so on. This is my favorite kind of Dolly Parton song. Unfortunately ALL the songs on Touch Your Woman aren't this provocative but still it's a worthwhile record. In good condition I'd pay four dollars for this record, but probably not five. (CL)
Together Always (w/Porter) (RCA 1972) A good 'un. CB radio-inspired "Ten Four-Over And Out" (shifting tempo with intentional hick diction: "Tey-un Faw-ur!"); the ultimate ticket to Fantasy Land "Any Place You Want To Go" ("Crushed Velvet" yes! "Mirrors On The Ceiling" yes! "Candles burning low" yes! yes! yes!) & the essential "Looking Down" ("Our love is real as a baby's crying sound/Still there's always someone looking down, down, down"). (HY)
Just The Way I Am (Pickwick/RCA/Camden 1972) Elvis fans know what this is about! Pickwick was the knockoff arm of RCA, and instead of putting out "Best Of"s it put out "Average Of" collections of previously issued stuff. This is the best of the Dolly Pickwicks in my opinion. Almost all originals, classics like "In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)," covers like "In The Ghetto" and Dolly on the cover in a crazy music-staffs-&-notes frock lead me to that conclusion. (WT)
My Favorite Songwriter: Porter Wagoner (RCA 1972) ***1/21. This record is uneven and not very good to sleep to. It's just got too many different kinds of songs next to each other and many of them are below average (Still better than anything you hear all day on a Hot New Country radio station!). Featuring some killer musicians like Pete Drake on steel, Buck Trent on banjo and Hargus "Pig " Robbins on piano, this album's best songs are all religious numbers. Dolly belts out "Still On Your Mind" so soulfully that it makes me want to fall on my knees and worship her and if Pig Robbins is behind that incredible rich sounding church organ, I'll worship him too. This is my most favorite song on the record and the only one I gave five stars to "When I Sing For Him" is a beautiful, humble song, and I love hearing Pete Drake's steel on "Oh, He's Everywhere" too. "Lonely Coming Down," which also appears on Dolly's album "Jolene") combines the excellence of Dolly's voice with the brilliance of Porter's songwriting so beautifully when she belts out lines like, "Then I felt the lonely dripping down my face." (But it makes me wonder, did Porter Wagoner ever drop acid?) The two novelty type songs are sort of obnoxious when you're trying to talk on the phone. They are, "What Ain't Meant To Be Just Might Happen," complete with Amos Moses guitar licks and background singers that sound like they're stolen straight off a Ray Stevans record, and "Washday Blues", which is a much better , funnier, goofy-ass song with unbelievable back up singers and Dolly's tongue in cheek dead pan delivery of lines like "my man sent me through he ringer" and "my hands have washed so many clothes, they've got diaper rash" save this song. Lastly, another song that further proves that this album is sort of all over the place is "The Bird That Never Flew," a sentimental recitation over church organ about a little bird that never flew until it kicked it's little bucket and flew to heaven. The song sort of leaves you between a rock and a hard place. If you aren't moved by it you're a cold hearted sonuvabitch and if you find yourself blubbering over the little bird's death it's as bad as crying over an AT&T commercial. Either way the song makes you feel bad about yourself. (HM)
We Found It (w/Porter) (RCA 1973) Yup, they found it. They live in "Love City" (population two); Behold Dolly's incredible pre-Susan smith take on the word "home" in "Sweet Rachel Ann" & there's another chance to playfully argue, "I've Been Married (Just As Long As You Have)." (HY)
My Tennessee Mountain Home (RCA 1973) After only a short time (relatively) at RCA, they gave Dolly reign to do this concept album and I'm glad they did. On this Dolly musically returns to her days in the mountains. While there has always been a recurring nostalgia theme, this is an all out assault. The cover and gatefold feature photos of her mountain home and her mom, dad, grandparents and relatives, and the liner notes were written by her mom and dad. The record opens with her reading the first letter she wrote home after leaving for Nashville. Every subsequent song is written by Dolly and she reminisces about "The Old Black Kettle," "Daddy's Working Boots," "and the like, and she reprises "In The Good Old Day When Times Are Bad." The title track, of course a classic, opens side two and the entire album ends the flashback with a song about Music Row. All the songs are good, and together they weave a music quilt that makes you forget the cornball factor. I mean, these are sincere if they're anything. (JA)
Love and Music (w/Porter) (RCA 1973) There's a lot of great, classic sounding Dolly and Porter tunes on this. "If Teardrops Were Heaven," "Laugh The Years Away," and the schmaltzy "You" are par for the fine course. However, one good twisted freak song makes it on here. In "I Get Lonesome By Myself" Porter is a man who sees a lonely little girl in a window. After Dolly (as the 5 year old, in her best baby voice) tells him where the house key is hidden, and invites him up, she tells her sob story of her fathers abandonment and her drunk mother's neglect. Then Porter shows her the photo of the baby he abandoned. Dolly recognizes the baby as herself and the lady in the photo as her mother, and she's not fazed a bit as she reclaims her daddy. Who needs DCFS! (JA)
Bubbling Over (RCA 1973) There's some nice songs on this, including "Traveling Man" which was also on "Coat Of Many Colors," "In The Beginning," and the title cut. I like the bubbling over photo of Dolly on the cover. One of the few Dolly albums available on Quadraphonic 8-Track! (WT)
Mine (Pickwick 1973) This Pickwick previous issue collection is all Dolly written material and there's a lot of drama, from infant mortality to a girl coveting her invalid sibling's man to a country girl going wayward in the big city. In other words, the usual material. The oil painting on the cover doesn't even look like any of Dolly's sisters, by the way. (JA).
Jolene (RCA 1974) ***1/21 Cowboy hats off to Dolly for writing eight of the ten songs on this record which include her two blockbuster mega-hits, "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You." "Jolene" is such a great song that my sister and I now refer to certain women as "Jolenes" and one of my most hilarious moments in my entire life was when I saw my friend Thax Douglas lip synch "Jolene" at a karaoke bar in his deadpan Droopy style with a middle eastern flair at the end of each stanza. (I guess you had to be there.) Anyway, it makes me sick that Dolly was actually thanking Whitney Houston on several talk shows that I saw for recording that nauseating version of "I Will Always Love You" which Dolly sang perfectly to begin with on this album. Other good numbers include, "When Someone Wants To Leave," Porter Wagoner's "Lonely Coming Down" and "Living Memories Of You" (Though I wish someone would shoot the harmonica player on this one with pop gun). Comments and complaints about the remaining songs read like this; too happy, too "Pop"py, sounds like a Carpenters song, too many rainbows, flowers, butterflies, empty, etc. "Jolene" is worth the cost of this record alone if you can find it for $3.00. It's up to you, "Jolene" or one cappuccino. You decide. (HM)
Porter 'N' Dolly (RCA 1974) Very solid, concise (one of the reasons for prolificity of Country artists in this era was 24 minute LPs) collection, with Dolly writing or co-writing all but one song. The exception, "Sixteen Years" by Porter and Tom Pick, is a fine Music Row chestnut about a couple leaving their dream home to move to the big city, but the finest moments on this album are on the Dolly tune "We'd Have To Be Crazy". Considering the haunting songs about insanity Porter has recorded solo, this lighthearted comic tune with lots of staged giggling and "playful" teasing seems to have a deep subtext. I think Dolly may had some satisfaction in making Porter sing lines about being crazy, and his joking banter has a touch of seriousness. At one point he 'jokes,' "shut up and sing." The two other notable songs on this record are "The Power Of Love" and "Sounds Of Nature". The former is a Porter penned solid Nashville nugget, and the latter is one of Dolly's nature girl sensitive songs that could have probably been a minor hit for her or an Emmylou Harris (or John Denver for that matter.) (JA)
Love Is Like A Butterfly (RCA 1974) Dolly wrote all but two on this record (Porter wrote the others) and her title tune would establish the butterfly as her symbol for the rest of her career. It's a nice song, sung in a wispy butterfly-esque approach, but I'm not sure how great an analogy or symbol a butterfly is. What I can't get out of my mind is the pathetic butterfly house at Dollywood Dolly's theme park in the Tennessee mountains near her home, with sickly butterflies clinging to the glasshouse walls in fear as too many of their brethren lay dead on the ground. Maybe I just went on a bad day. The eagle, which she would sing about on her "Harvest/Gathering" album a few years later, and who are also sanctuaried at Dollywood, seems a more Dolly-like animal. The material on this album is pretty strong, and I especially like the last song, "Sacred Memories" about going to church back in the day. (JA)
The Bargain Store (RCA 1975) The title track from this album is a remarkable song. Using a thrift shop as a metaphor for her used but still good love, she crafts a haunting (matched by the ghostly cover of Dolly looking in the bargain store window) composition with a vocal and string chorus response that sounds like something off of Sgt. Pepper, immediately followed by a bass run that sounds like "Spazz" by The Elastik Band. Her enunciation on this song is unusual and striking. It's followed by the catchy "Kentucky Gambler" and all of Dolly's songs on the record are strong. She wrote all but two, with Porter and Merle Haggard writing one each. Apparently Haggard was obsessed with making Dolly his (both were married at the time) and he would write songs for her to sing and call her at 3 or 4 in the morning drunk to play them for her, convinced a hit would win her love. His song on this record is "You'll Always Be Special To Me." Hmmm. (JA)
The Best Of Dolly Parton (RCA 1975) This is the best Best Of, with her most classic masterpieces on it, and an incredible confidence in songwriting, and even in her cover photo, which is also on nice poster included! Highly recommended. (WT)
I Wish I Felt This Way At Home (Pickwick 1975) Mostly non Dolly written songs on this Pickwick previously released stuff collection, and her voice is great and it's a very nice listen, but you don't get the Dolly flavor. It's pretty standard Country. (JA)
Say Forever You'll Be Mine (w/Porter)(RCA 1975) This is only for people trying to complete a collection. There's not ONE memorable song here, even though four were written by Dolly and three by Porter (they sound like they were slapped together in about 20 minutes). I guess they were trying to put together a real "positive" album with inspirational love songs, but the only thing I was inspired to do was to take this record out of the house and lean it against the car. Wagoner produced it and hired not only the Nashville Edition but some hokey outfit called The Lea Jane Singers to try 'n spice up these drab numbers, but all THEY do is make it sound like bad Pop music instead of bad Country music. Dolly and Porter SOUND good - -they sing together as well as any duet, but these songs are so squeaky clean it might as well be Guy and Ralna. I give this record one star1 and you shouldn't pay more than two dollars for it . . .SEALED! (CL)
Dolly (aka The Seeker and We Used To) (RCA 1975)This is a really solid album. Unlike her early LPs she's definitely not in a mode of just cranking out an album of a bunch of songs. This LP is constructed in a very particular way. All the songs have a somberness and romanticism to them, with the only real upbeat, though thematically appropriate song, being her plea to God, "The Seeker." An early Dolly or Dolly and Porter record would have a novelty song or an insanely melodramatic story song marring the mix, but this really keeps you in the mood throughout. They are all love songs, and there's a lot of melancholy in here, so if that's your bag, fill it with this. (JA)
Dolly Parton and Friends at Goldband (Goldband, 1976?) Goldband repackaged their one Dolly single with other, solid Rockabilly, swampabilly cuts. Pretty good, but if I had a choice, I'd take the Charley reissues that came out in the 80s. (JA)
All I Can Do (RCA 1976) The opening title track is a perky pleasant winner that sets the tone for this album. Not a masterpiece, but no real clunkers, and a bunch of nice tunes that sound real Saturday night at the Opry-like (especially the Country Gospel number "Preacher Tom.") (JA)
Great Moments On The Grand Ole Opry (RCA 1976) Dolly sings "Coat Of Many Colors" and reminisces about her childhood Opry appearance. Of course, she's a charmer. (JA)
Best Of Chet Atkins and Friends (RCA 1976) Dolly and Chet get together for "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind", a Dolly song which was unreleased at the time. Can't go wrong with that combo. (JA)
Just Because I'm A Woman (Pickwick 1976) Dolly does some classic C&Ws on this collection of previously released stuff, like "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "Muleskinner Blues." Decent.
You Are (RCA International UK issue, 1977) I guess this was a Dolly handshake across the pond. It's a nice collection in a lot of ways, with over the top stuff like "Me & Little Andy" and Joshua," and almost all the songs penned by Dolly and even a Porter and Dolly cut.
Release Me (Dolly Parton, Dottie West. Jan Howard and June Starnes) (Starday 1977) This knockoff only has one Dolly song, "Two Little Orphans." June Starnes?
New Harvest...First Gathering (RCA 1977) Dolly was experiencing crossover success with the Rock audience, with covers of Rolling Stone magazine, an autobiography being written about her by Alanna Nash, of Hi-Fi Magazine, and America experiencing a new level of Country chÝc. She thought this would be her important record that would bring her to the next level. She keeps a Country pervasive theme throughout, manifesting itself in the denim and bandanna cover shot, (she looks great) and songs like "Applejack," which could have been on "My Tennessee Mountain Home." However, she adds a spiritual cosmic edge to those themes in the opening (Light Of A Clear Blue Morning") and closing ("There") tracks. She also tips her hat to Pop by covering Motown ("My Girl" done as "My Love") and "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher." She also gives the nod to AOR by having two songs be 5 minutes plus! This record was not the smash hit she expected, and her blatant flashy crossover records that follow, in some ways, make you wish it was. (JA)
Here You Come Again (RCA 1977) The cover shows Dolly in packed blue jeans and Daisy Mae shirt in front of Neon, get it? She's a Country gal in a high tech world! That's the deal! You've got the crossover of the title cut, matched with the mountain charm of the Dolly originals "God's Coloring Book." The highlight, or lowlight if you will, is Dolly flashing back to her Kitty Wells impersonator days by relighting the flame under the tragic toddler genre with "Me and Little Andy" a would be tearjerker about an abused little girl and her puppy, who both die. Dolly does a baby voice in this that may have had more influence on Gwen Stefani than Madonna did. Enjoyable record. (JA)
In The Beginning (Monument 1978) Re-release of The World of Dolly tracks.
Heartbreaker (RCA 1978) The two catchiest ditties here, a variation on Elvis' "Burnin' Love" called "Baby I'm Burnin'" and ""I Wanna Fall In Love" reappear on the Dance with Dolly EP, but there's a few other interesting "Countrypolitan" numbers here. Most notable is an almost return to roots, where she retreads the ground of her great early 70s "Coat Of Many Colors/ Tennessee Mountain Home" glory with a child hood song based on her busking days that occurred between her first and second single. The cover scheme, by the way, is Ultra-Pink«. (JA)
Dance With Dolly ("Baby I'm Burnin" b/w "I Wanna Fall In Love" 12" Disco Mix) (RCA 1978) This hot pink vinyl curiosity applies the most generic disco-remix concepts, including the classic Latin-disco beats and outer space sound effects, to songs that already have a pop/dance sound...and I love it! Who wouldn't want to dance with Dolly? My only negative comment, is don't listen to this at home if you have or ever had a phone with the cheap electronic ringer, because several of the cheeseier phaseshifts had me reaching for the receiver. (JA)
Both Sides Of (Euro only?) (Lotus 1979) A previously issued stuff compilation with a decent flavor to it. (WT)
Great Balls Of Fire (RCA 1979) OK, to be honest, I'm pretty confused by this one. It has lots of notes like it was a concert album, including a gatefold live shot and credits for "Concertmasters" and lots of arrangers, but it's clearly a studio album. The Dolly penned opener "Star Of The Show" has its moments, but this record for the most part is so slick (including the two maybe shouldn'ta done 'em covers "Help!" and the title track) I slid right off it. (JA)
Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (RCA 1980) Bad record. She's not even recording her own material. And the production, ecch. (JA)
The Dolly Parton Collection (Monument 1980) Yet again, Monument milks its two Dolly LPs.
The Very Best Of (RCA 1980) Not as good as the Best Of that came out five years earlier, but better than the one from two years later! (JA)
Porter & Dolly (RCA 1980) ***1. This record will never be the one that I reach for when I want to hear some down home Country music, that's for sure. It's more like E-Z listening. But when reviewed for what it is rather than what it ain't, I'd say half the songs are pretty good. I'm just not a big fan of the symphony backing up my favorite hillbilly singers (Although occasionally somebody pulls it off, like George Jones did with one of his best songs, "He Stopped Loving Her Today"). Fortunately for the listener of this album, all of the best songs are on the same side (Side One) so you don't have to keep jumping up outta the bathtub to skip over the crummy ones. You may wonder after all the feudin' fightin' and suin' they did during their nasty split up, how Porter and Dolly could come back with an album that had anything worth listening to on it. Well, I found out that the material was actually recorded four or five years prior to the release date when they were still on speaking terms. It was in fact part of the out-of-court settlement in the long bitter lawsuit they had against each other. I didn't find any five star songs on it. At the time their harmony was almost like a formula which at its best was plugged into a real pretty song that had a steel geetar hidden amongst all those strings (if you're lucky!). Four star songs include: "Making Plans," "If You Go I'll Follow" (Ironically titled as neither had any intention of doing this), "Someone Just Like You," and the misplaced but very sweet little Christmas song, "Little David's Harp." "Hide Me Away" is allright, too, but gets way too dramatic with tons of background singers and Dolly gets into this shape note singing jag which I'm not nuts about. Nothing much to get excited about on side two and make sure to stay clear of that awful schedule song2 at the end, "Singing On The Mountain." One last thing, they never posed together for that glamorous picture on the cover of this album. They're pasted together like The National Inquirer. If you don't believe me, check out the separate photo credits on the back. (HM)
9 to 5 (and Other Odd Jobs) (RCA 1980) The title track was the pop #1 million seller that you gotta kind of like. The rest of the album wavers between a more traditional Country than she'd been doing and some weird pop stuff. Her "follow up" to "9 to 5" ("Working Girl") doesn't work, and her "House of the Rising Sun" has a keyboard line you'd expect to hear from a pick up hack backing up Question Mark in the 80s. A lot of the more trad stuff is OK, though, including a Guthrie cover ("Deportee) and a nice original ("Poor Folks Town") to close the LP. (JA)
9 to 5 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (20th Century Fox, 1980) This features the single and an end title reprise, which unfortunately doesn't have different lyrics, but does have a weird Bayou breakdown fadeout ending. The rest of the album is Charles Fox' humorous score to the film, which is actually a pretty odd listen. (JA)
Heartbreak Express (RCA 1982) Dolly is in the midst of probably a career peak, with the big movies and big pop hits and etc etc., but most of the albums around the time ain't too hot. Thus, it's pretty surprising how awesome this album is. The first side is super enjoyable, kicking off with Dolly's own, "Heartbreak Express," continuing with a good choice of a Music Row slickee, "Single Women," and an update of "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy" and ending with the brilliant "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," which she wrote years earlier and released on a Chet Atkins record. Four solid Dolly originals on the flip give you a pretty good deal for your dollars. She really relied on her own songwriting and chose well, digging back in the catalogue when it was appropriate. She looks good on the cover, too. (JA)
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982) This musical didn't have the best songs, so Dolly dusted off "I Will Always Love You" and wrote a song for her and Burt Reynolds to duet on. I can't recommend or disuade you on this, except to ask, do you need to hear a record where songs are performed by Jim Nabors, Dom Deluise and "Dolly and the Whorehouse Girls?" I do! (JA)
Greatest Hits (RCA 1982) Well, there's some big songs here, "9 to 5", "Applejack," "I Will Always Love You 1982," etc., but you know about that stuff, so lets talk cover art. Dolly from the waist up in a tight red sweater striking a classic glazed eyed Betty Page pin-up pose...in front of a wall of blue shower tile!!! OK, maybe it's not supposed to look like a locker room wall, but then how do you explain the steam floating in from stage left? I've been trying, but I can't figure this out. The inside gatefold is a scrapbook from movies and recent album covers, and the back cover is a bunch of photos in different prostitute outfits from her "Whorehouse" movie. Oddsville. (JA)
The Winning Hand (w/ Kris Kristoferson, Willie Nelson & Brenda Lee) (Monument 1983) Yet another repackaging of early material, this time with stuff by other biggies that Monument had been clever about the contracts with.
Eyes That See In The Dark [Barry Gibb](1983) Features a version of "Islands In The Stream," written by Gibb. The single, a duet by Dolly and Kenny Rogers, was a number one hit, and it falls onto many guilty pleasures lists. (WT)
Burlap and Satin (RCA 1983) The Willie Nelson duet, while not awful like the Smokey Robinson duet looming on the horizon, would have been a lot better if one of them wrote it, but actually, Dolly's songwriting isn't at her peak here so maybe it's just a swell. She wrote the majority of the album, but none of them are too hooky or charming. The single however, "Potential New Boyfriend," though it may have been recorded on 1980s Nashville Standard Time, sure is catchy. The back cover has the great literal title description, where she's wearing a burlap skirt and a silk blouse. I love literal cover art. (JA)
Jolie Blonde Rocks 'N'Rolls (Charly, 1984) and Swampcats Beat (Charly, 1984) These two import LPs from this fine European Rockabilly reissue label put together the great Goldband Records singles catalogue, with spare, but decent liner notes, and nice packaging. In a classy move, they don't play up Dolly on the cover, but they do split the single up over both albums so Dolly collectors have to get both. (JA)
The Great Pretender (RCA 1984) It didn't work for Guns 'n Roses, it didn't work for Joan Jett, it didn't work for Slayer, but before all those failures Dolly gave a shot at an album of covers of her high profile favorites. While most would say she suffered a similar fate, I'm going to give Dolly some slack here. Songs like Jerry Butler's "(S)He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line" and even the Motown nugget, "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" all have arrangements that would work for anyone, and her throwing some variation in there avoids the path of least resistance. "The Great Pretender" was the single, and, like the rest of the record, it has some charm. A note on the cover art; the color photos of her in a super high slit skirt, suffocating corset and extreme makeup are pretty RuPaul, but in the inside photo, in black and white, there's something very attractive. She should think about going back to the black and white. (JA)
Rhinestone Original Soundtrack Recording (1984) Awesome. Dolly wrote all the songs except for a Rusty Buchanan comedy song, and she doled a few out to fellow Partons (Randy, Stella and Floyd) and she does a few good solo numbers, including the great "Tennessee Homesick Blues" with awesome fake live crowd noise pasted on. The reason to get this record though is for Sylvester Stallone's four songs. while the pitch problem he seemed to have singing his own title track for the movie, "Paradise Alley" isn't haunting him as much, his interpretation of a Country accent mixed with his own unique approach to enunciation has jawdropping effect. He sounds like Bob Dylan...in 1997...after coming from the dentist. Three of the songs are duets with Dolly, but the Sly solo number, "Drinkin'stein" may have the distinction of being her worst song ever, and she's penned a lot of klinkers. "Budweiser you've created a monster/And they call him Drinkin'stein/And the tavern down the street is the laboratory/where he makes the transformation all the time." Now imagine Stallone mumbling that. Awesome. (JA)
Once Upon A Christmas (w/Kenny Rogers) (RCA 1984) Ouch. This accompanied their TV special, and it would be a super generic X-mas record if it weren't for Kenny's awful vocal performance dragging it below the Mendoza line. It's hard to figure why he's so popular sometimes. Dolly wrote a couple of tunes, but Irving Berlin's got nothing to worry about. Best thing about this record is Dolly As Mrs. Claus on the cover. (JA)
Real Love (RCA 1985) The cover art is all soft focus and "lush," and so is the music, with lots of lush sax, lush background vocals and soft songs. The big hit is "Real Love" with Kenny Rogers, and let me tell you, it's no "Islands In The Stream." The album ends with an upbeat Dolly penned tune, "I Hope You're Never Happy," and that's my fave rave on this disc, but you'd have to be a softer or lusher man then I to enjoy this. (JA)
Dolly Parton Collectors Series (RCA 1985) Lots of hits here, like "Jolene," "Two Doors Down," and a bunch of other stuff you oughta already have. (WT)
Think About Love (RCA 1986) She's not at her peak here, but there's a few decent moments. The production is insanely...challenging. (WT)
Just The Way I Am (Pair 1986) This collects stuff not from her greatest hits stuff, but from her Camden knockoffs. (WT)
Sweet Harmony/Together Always (with Porter) (Pair 1986?) Another knockoff collection. Not the best stuff, but if you're looking for Porter & Dolly material this might be easier to find than the original issues. Pair released a really good budget Porter and Dolly collection in 1994, look for that one.(WT)
Trio (w/Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris)(WEA 1987) The whole isn't better than the parts. They had talked about doing this record a long time, and when they finally did, it did OK, but it's no masterpiece. Too often they harmonize their way into bland Wilson/Phillips-no-personality territory. They do two Dolly songs, the vaguely pleasant "Wildflowers," and the Dolly and Porter penned "The Pain of Loving You." The traditional covers end up sounding more Prairie Home Companion than Grand Ole Opry, so if that's your bag, this might be for you. [Dolly also sang harmony on Emmylou's "When I Stop Dreaming" (on Luxury Liner, Warner Bros 1977) Linda's "I Never Will Marry (from Simple Dreams, Asylum 1977) and they all three sang on Emmylou's Christmas single "Light Of The Stable" (Reprise)] (JA)
Best Of Dolly Vol 3 (RCA 1987) These are her hits from 82-85, a pretty small window when you think about it, and some of them were on her 82 "Best Of" already. There's a few really catchy ditties here, including "Potential New Boyfriend" and "Tie Our Love (In A Double Knot)". The fake crowd noise is removed from "Tennessee Homesick Blues" and the remixing on "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" and "We Had It All," don't mess anything up. (JA)
Rainbow (Columbia 1987) Ewww. At the end of this rainbow is a pot of shit. The duet with Smokey Robinson is awful, what would have been great (maybe) is if they tossed that loser and wrote something together, as the only songs that sound like they have any relationship to listenable music on this are her two songs and her cover of his "Two Lovers." This record sounds like B-sides of singles from the "Footloose" soundtrack. As a Jew I'm ashamed to be of the same faith as Steve Goldstien who produced, arranged and did "drum programming" on this album. (JA)
White Limozeen (Columbia 1989) She decided to get back to her roots and get more traditional, (though you wouldn't know it from the movie star cover) so she got Ricky Skaggs to record it and she got the right material for the job. Now Skaggs might have bad hair, he might be homophobic, and he might bloat, but you can't deny his Bluegrass pedigree, and he does well here. Most importantly, Dolly's voice is fantastic. The hit here is the honky tonker "Why'd You Come In Here Looking like That?", which is a gas. Way decent album overall, but the synth on the Gospel number, "He's Alive," might be pushing it
16 Top Tunes (RCA 199?) Not her top tunes in my book. (WT)
Crazy [Julio Iglesias] (1990 Columbia) This is Julio's LP, and they duet on "When You Tell me That You Love Me." Makes you long for Kenny Rogers...and maybe even Stallone. (JA)
Home For Christmas (CBS 1990) Well, this is so much better than her Kenny Christmas album it's ridiculous, but that's not saying much. No originals, this is all standards, the most traditional sacred material and the most traditional novelty material. I like "The First Noel" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." (WT)
Randy Travis Duets-Heroes & Friends (1990 Warner Brothers) They duet on her classic, "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind." Travis has a wonderful, classic Country voice, and maybe that did something weird, because though they both sound great, Dolly doesn't deliver this song with the authority she has in the past.
Eagle When She Flies (Columbia 1991) This is a good confident album, and she got airplay on it, which is hard for someone in Country whose been recording since '59! The title track, an ode to womanhood, revisits the Eagle symbolism from "New Harvest...First Gathering" and it's pretty moving. She sang it to Barbara Bush on TV and that creeped me out for some reason. Her duet with Ricky Van Shelton ("Rockin' Years") is decent and her duet with Lorrie Morgan is a nice combination of two good, distinct voices.
Simply The Best (Woodford 1991) Reissue of RCA stuff, with lots of covers. She looks like Barbie on the sleeve art. (WT)
Straight Talk soundtrack (Hollywood 1992) OK, there's something about Dolly that I haven't really gone into yet. Now I have no problem with alternative vocal approaches, and in fact if Dolly wants to do 100 more songs where she sings in her baby girl voice, I'm there! However, often she kicks into this weird cackly rap/spoken thing, and while it worked more when she used it sparingly in the early days, here it is very. . . challenging. On this album she's rapping, her lyrics are more clever than poetic and she's straining to repeat the "9 to 5" vibe. Maybe that's her approach to being urban, or maybe you're not allowed to record a good record for a Disney owned label, but all and all this is not recommended. (JA)
Slow Dancing With The Moon (1993 Columbia/Sony) Dolly's not at her absolute songwriting best (she breaks into a few cackly Dolly raps) and the single "Romeo (with guests galore including Billy Ray Cyrus and Tanya Tucker) is no "Why'd You Come In Here Looking Like That." "I'll Make Your Bed" is a pretty nice number, though, and the rousing cover of "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" is pretty inspirational. After a few listens the CD grows on you. (JA)
The RCA Years 1967-1986 (RCA 1993) This double CD collection is a step above most of the RCA reissue stuff. What's great about this is the linear quality of hearing the great early stuff transmogrify into the strong crossover stuff and the Kenny Rogers duet stuff that sticks in my craw the wrong way. If I had a choice between this and the "Essential Dolly" that was issued a few years later, if this was like 7 dollars less, I'd definitely get this. (WT)
Beverly Hillbillies Soundtrack (Fox 1993) Dolly sings "If You Ain't Got Love," a pretty decent song for 1993 Dolly. The other songs are mostly classic 60s era Music Row songs redone by contemporary stars, pretty well for the most part. A highlight is Jim (Ernest) Varney's "Hot Rod Lincoln." (JA)
Asleep At The Wheel/Tribute To The Music Of Bob Wills (Liberty 1993) Dolly sings "Billy Dale" ("Lily Dale" originally) in a clear, strong voice, with one breathy part I could do without. For a Texas Swing record, it's a pretty lush production it's not the swingingest song. I'd really rather have heard her tear it up on something more uptempo. (JA)
I Will Always Love You: All Time Greatest Hits Volume 1-3 (RCA 1993?) Hits Hits Hits! Just to comment on the history of the title track, Whitney Houston made a ton of dough for Dolly by making that cover one of the biggest singles in all time history, but she sings it pretty bad. Obviously the original version on "Jolene" proves that quietness and tenderness are what can bring real power to this song, and though Whitney's version works as a song hit, the words don't mean the same things when she powers them up. Also, the reason it was a pretty good bet to cover was that the song reached #1 Country twice, in '74 and again in '82 from the "Whorehouse" soundtrack, and it crossed over to Pop then! Best cover of it ever, though is Martin Lawrence's hilarious acapella version to win back Gina on his TV show.
Honky Tonk Angels (w/Lorretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette) (Columbia 1994) The essential difference between this and "Trio" is that Dolly, Linda and Emmylou are craftswomen who showed off their serious harmonies. Lorretta, Tammy and Dolly on the other hand are personalities with unique voices and serious history in every note. They make a pretty interesting record singing great songs like "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," "Wings Of A Dove," my all time fave, "I Dreamed Of Hillbilly Heaven" and all the time they really seem to enjoy themselves. What makes this record really freaky, though, are the guest stars. Dolly goes back to 1963 and her first album by bringing Kitty Wells onto the scene to sing "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angles," and you can't argue with that. But then look out baby, cause she's using technology! Through the miracle of modern computers, Dolly (the Farrah of these Angels) pays tribute to her old pal Faye Tucker by starting off "Lovesick Blues" with the question, "Patsy, whacha lookin' so down about?" Then Patsy Cline joins the chorus of angels, forming a quartet! I think Nat King Cole was doing backups. (WT)
Heartsongs: Live From Home (Columbia 1994) This live record (which sort of coincided with a new exhibit at Dollywood) has Dolly on the cover in a red check dress looking half down home and half super powered. She goes through a collection of some of the saddest, most sentimental folk standards and originals (including "Mary Of The Wild Moor," "Barbara Allen" and "Coat Of Many Colors") that would be a powerful bringdown if it weren't for the up banter she peppers the performance with. She's a pro! The single, Dolly's "To Daddy," which was a Emmylou Harris record in the early 70s, is really good, and how can you not like a album that ends with a song called "PMS Blues." (WT)
Two Of A Kind (w/Porter) (Pair 1994) This great compilation of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner duets contains most of their hit single A sides and even B sides recorded between 1967 when Dolly joined Porter's TV and road shows, and 1974, the year of their unamiable parting. Included are the well known love songs that brought the pair Country Music Association Vocal Duo awards in 1970 and 1971, but also featured are the ominously foreshadowing hate songs, like "I've Been Married As Long As You have" and the unparalleled "Fight and Scratch," in which Porter and Dolly drift from their singing voices and begin insulting each other in heated conversational interludes. One exchange has Porter calling Dolly "Catfish." "What's that supposed to mean?" Dolly asks sneeringly. "Yeah, catfish, all mouth, no brain." Porter answers cleverly. Art imitates life. (JG)
Red Hot and Country (Mercury 1994) With all the drag queens impersonating Dolly and her huge gay following, it's no surprise that she was probably the first in line to donate a song, a good one ("You Gotta Be My Baby"), to this AIDS benefit album. (WT)
Souvenirs [Vince Gill] (1995 MCA) This is Vince's album and Dolly and him duet on "I Will Always Love You," I wonder why they thought that would be a commercial hit? (WT)
Something Special (Columbia 1995) She's looking pretty fly busting out of her low cut black gown on the cover, and she's also busting out a few classics to get this one cooking. Dolly redoes "I Will Always Love You," "Jolene," and "The Seeker" and she knocks out a few decent variations on Dolly themes, including "Teach me To Trust" (a duet with Vince Gill), "Speakin' Of The Devil," and "Crippled Bird." You know, she has a sanctuary for one winged eagles at Dollywood. (WT)
The Essential Porter and Dolly (RCA 1995) Excellent material, great photos, remastered songs and extensive liner notes are all plusses here. This is a great set, but if you're budget minded this probably lists at $17 or $18, while the comparably qualitied (material wise, I'm not judging sound quality) Pair set from '94 sells for $9.99. If you ain't rollin' in it, buy that and save your money for a Nudie sequined suit. (WT)
The Essential Dolly Parton (RCA 1995) RCA is cranking out Dolly collections, but at least this has lots of photos, liner notes and remastering. A better start for a new Dolly fan than some of the other stuff they're pumping out, like...
Super Hits (RCA 1996) 31 minutes of one second of Super! (WT)
I Will Always Love You and Other Greatest Hits (Columbia/Sony 1996) Much like the dozens of RCA comps that they began issuing when she left them, Columbia celebrates Dolly's departure with this dubious best of. Actually it's pretty good, most of her Columbia records had at least one good, rockin' song, and they're all here. The ripoff is that the title song is the Vince Gill duet version of "I Will Always Love You." Lots of guest stars, including Ricky van Shelton, Billy Ray Cyrus, etc. (WT)
Treasures (Rising Tide 1996) Though she is of course an exceptional songwriter when she's in a groove, her talent as an interpreter shouldn't be overlooked, so this album of covers is actually pretty nice, far more interesting than "The Great Pretender." Her voice sounds fabulous on "Peace Train". Though most of the guest star spots (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, uno Lobo, John Sebastian,) are tasteful, John Popper, perhaps the worst harmonica player ever, soils "Today I Started Loving You Again." One unfortunate endnote in critique of the photos, especially the closeup on the back of the booklet: Her beauty, of course, comes from inside, but even in my most die-hard fan mode I have to admit that whatever cosmetic work she's had done is starting to move towards the Michael Jackson-esque. (JA)
The Essential Dolly Parton Volume II (RCA 1997) More digitally remastered stuff, with lots of good songs and a new edit of "The Seeker." RCA has re-released this stuff so much it's hard to judge, but this has notes and good pictures and if you don't have anything it's a good start. (WT)
Peace Train (Flip It, 1997) Though her Dance With Dolly 12" was a logical exploration into the Disco "fad," this double 12" was an inevitability. Dolly is a drag icon, regardless of the fact that she's biologically female, so it's little surprise that gay dance music was a field ripe for the conquering. Junior Vasquez' remix of Dolly and Ladysmith Black Mombazo's cover of this 1971 Cat Stevens song became a huge club hit, and by the time I bought this at a dance music emporium in Washington, DC, it seemed that no one in the place was leaving without a copy of it. "Junior's Arena Anthem," an epic lengthed remix, actually doesn't really float my boat. It's one of those remixes that just sounds like two almost incongruous records playing at the same time. The more timid "Holy Roller" mix is more my speed, with a touch of HiNRG and some serious club sweat flavor. Of note is the photo of Dolly on the back cover, as a Techno-Angel busting out of red velvet in front of a space capsule view of earth pulsating with Peace Train energy. (JA)
9 to 5 (1980) This is probably one of Dolly's best screen performances. Along with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, she devises an ingenious plan to get back at their mean, sexist corporate boss, played perfectly by Dabney Coleman (I still hate him most from this role!). Although she's stuck with some of the usual "country" stereotyping, Dolly is great at playing it straight with the nervous Tomlin and nerdy Fonda characters. I was only 10 years old when this movie came out, but I distinctly remember the vague sense of "go girl" feminism it stirred up in me. But that was back when women's lib was cool. (JS)
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982) Dolly is the head prostitute with a heart of gold, running a long-established brothel until tabloid TV host Dom DeLuise starts a campaign to shut it down. Burt Reynolds is typically uncharming as the overmacho local sheriff who sleeps with Dolly on the side, but can't protect her from losing her business. From the opening minutes of this cheesy Broadway musical adaptation, I was baffled by the thought that anyone (the makers of this film, or anyone who went to see it) could ever enjoy such nauseating scenes of singing, romping, happy-go-lucky prostitutes, who assure us through song that "There's nothing dirty going on." OK. Dolly wears some amazing, gravity-defying lingerie ensembles. Unfortunately, despite some minimal songwriting input, her musical talent is not put to very good use. She finds a way to work in her classic "farewell" ballad, "I Will Always Love You" toward the film's conclusion, but of course, we get a corny, boy-gets-girl ending anyway. (JS)
Rhinestone (1984) The jokes in this movie are super unfunny and the plot (Dolly, a star at a NYC Urban Cowboy bar has to make a Country star out of dumb assed Stallone in a week or so) would work better if they had someone who actually could convincingly demonstrate improvement. The best thing in the movie actually is Sly's attempt to be a bad Country singer. He sounds like a mix of Hasil Adkins and Nervous Norvis. His excruciating stage presence when he's supposed to be good makes you appreciate Frank Stallone. A lot. Dolly is beautiful, sings well and has great screen presence. It's really sad that at this period she wasn't given a better movie. Her straight faced duets with Stallone should have earned her an Oscar. (JA)
Dolly In London (1985) This live concert film utilizes a technique I wish Dolly had considered repeating instead of using plastic surgery; If you want to make yourself look more attractive, surround yourself with the British! But seriously folks, this is a great concert. Even at her schmaltziest and most show bizzy, Dolly has such grace and ease and joy on stage that you have to dig what she's doing. This concert, of course, has the big 80s hits like "9 to 5," but she surprises you by pulling out the old teen pregnancy album cut "Down From Dover," and she does a really weird Gospel medley, which features a wide definition of Gospel (ok, I'll buy "When the Saints Go Marching In," but "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show?"). My favorite part is where Dolly tells about getting flipped off by punk rockers ("I guess they're called Romantics, now") and tells how she gave them the finger back. She then argues that she was the original punk rocker, piercing her ears with a pen as an adolescent and wearing her out-there makeup. (JA)
A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986, TV) I looked up this film in the Videohound book to get the year, and though they mentioned that Dolly goes to the mountains to get away from it all and meets a ragtag group of orphans, they conclude that it's "Innocuous seasonal country fun," and somehow fail to mention the evil witch, Lee Majors as the mysterious mountain man/love interest, or that Dolly wrote it! C'mon, she fights a witch! (JA)
Steel Magnolias (1989) A large ensemble cast of women (Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis) gathers in a small-town beauty parlor (run by Dolly) to share the joys and sorrows of marriage and motherhood. A typical melodramatic, woman's film "weepy," with plenty of ups and downs, weddings and divorces, joyful births and untimely deaths. Most offensive is the way in which the other women fake accents around Dolly.
Wild Texas Wind (1991, TV) Dolly co-stars with Gary Busey in this dramatic western period piece. Actually she plays a more dramatic role than usual and she comes off really strong. She deserves more good movies, but now she looks so weird with her latest face lift I don't think she could be in the old west. (WT)
Straight Talk (1991) As a Chicagoan, I am usually pretty excited about seeing films shot here -- to recognize locations, and especially to see what the filmmakers get wrong. Like most Chicago-set films, Straight Talk produces its own surreal version of what life in this city is like. Dolly, fresh from a broken marriage in Arkansas, comes to the big city to try her luck. As she is about to fall/jump into the Chicago River (to save her last dollar?), Sun-Times reporter James Woods spots her from his office window and runs out to save her. One coincidence after another finds Dolly queen of radio talk show land, offering up homespun, common sense advice to Chicago's lovelorn masses. Tension builds as Woods comes closer and closer to exposing Dolly's false credentials and her ample bosom. (The film's lowest comedy moment happens as Dolly and Woods begin to make love, and we hear Woods exclaim off screen, "Holy Moly!" This is the best they could do?!) These two make an incredibly strange cinematic couple. Though the movie couldn't actually be called good, Dolly again is comfortable and engaging under the cameras eye, and if the jokes had been funny and the movie had been better this may have been a breakthrough role based on her performance, but alas, that wasn't the case. (JS)
Beverly Hillbillies (1993) Dolly makes an extended cameo, singing "Happy Birthday" and an original at Jed Clampett's birthday party. She does great, of course, but there's not much to it. They missed the opportunity to put her in the same shot with her "9 to 5" co-stars Dabney Coleman and Lily Tomlin who are playing Mr. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway. Considering the plot of this film (a hillbilly billionaire looking for a wife), the only missing star, Jane Fonda, sorta is in this anyway, because she lived it! Overall, the movie is way better than it had to be. Of course, recasting the brilliant original TV series is futile, that show is an American masterpiece, but I have to admit I laughed a lot. Cloris Leachman is uncannily Granny looking. I'm not the biggest Tomlin fan, but she was very funny in this, and I may actually be the biggest Ernest fan, so I loved seeing Jim Varney as Jed. He took the opportunity to be the antithesis of Ernest P. Worrell by making Jed a very smooth, sensible patriarch, and unlike Urkel's attempts to be suave, this comes off well. He's a pretty surprisingly suave leading man, and they go with this by putting him in a George Strait-esque cowboy hat and tux ensemble for most of the movie. They get a few good things from the TV show down, including a guy in a bear suit, an orang-utang dressed like a person (they could have used some chimps, though!) and a monster truck. OK, the show didn't have that last one, but it would have it they were around. (JA)
A made for TV thing (1996) I know she did a Lifetime movies for women type thing, but I missed it and no one I know saw it.
FOOTNOTES FOR CHRIS and HEATHER's REVIEWS
1. Rating System for Chris and Heater: ***** = Run out and Buy It NOW! **** = Don't pass on this one. *** = Take it or leave it, but I'd probably take it. ** = It's YOUR money! * = El Frisbee
2. SCHEDULE SONG- When my husband Chris and I go to the New Orleans Jazz Festival every year there are certain songs that are so bad that we start looking at our schedules to see what is happening on the other stages. These songs are generally overplayed and audiences are invited to clap along or sing along. Oftentimes, large amounts of people sing these on stage. Example: "I Saw The Light," "When The Saints Go Marching In," "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," "I'll Fly Away," "Bill Bailey Come Home."