Kenny Rogers

Eyes That See in the Dark

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This is a masterpiece of a pop recording from Kenny Rogers. It is clear that Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, and co-producers Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten remembered Rogers' pop roots with the First Edition and, despite the country twang of "Buried Treasure," the slick musicianship and modulation are not your typical country & western. There are four tracks written by Barry and Maurice and five more by Barry, Maurice, and brother Robin Gibb, including the stunning number one hit from September 1983, "Islands in the Stream." It hit number one across the board on adult contemporary, country, and the Top 40, and deservedly so -- the melody is infectious, impeccable, and perfectly recorded. Keep in mind this was five years after they created Frankie Valli's biggest-selling solo record, "Grease" -- the pairing of Dolly Parton with Rogers makes for an amazing vocal sound to carry the melody. "Living With You" features the Bee Gees -- it is Rogers fronting the Bee Gees, and why they didn't seek out more artists, new as well as established, to work their magic on is a pity. It's a lush setting for the country superstar, and as Barbara Streisand and Dionne Warwick enjoyed success thanks to this creative team, Eyes That See in the Dark stands as an important piece of the Rogers catalog and a really timeless recording. The Gatlin Brothers add their magic to "Evening Star" and "Buried Treasure," and these elements bring the Barry Gibb/Richardson/Galuten thousand-tracks production down to earth. "Evening Star" doesn't have the complexities of Samantha Sang's "Emotion," the producers being very careful to keep it simple, something they just weren't doing on all their other records. There are only ten tracks on Eyes That See in the Dark, Jimmie Haskell's strings the major instrument next to Rogers' sympathetic vocal performance. "Midsummer Nights" is co-authored by Barry Gibb and Galuten, making Barry the catalyst and driving force, as he is the only person with a hand in every tune. "Midsummer Nights" brings things back up after "Hold Me," and it is more adult contemporary than country. It would have made a great single but, as it was, the opening track, "This Woman," went Top 25 in early 1984, and by the end of that year Rogers would post his 27th Top 40 hit, ending a string started 16 years earlier in 1968. It isn't clear why they didn't, but the pretty Barry and Maurice Gibb tune "I Will Always Love You" (not to be confused with Parton's hit of the same name) and the title track certainly should have found some chart action as well. Eyes That See in the Dark is not the definitive Kenny Rogers album but, outside of greatest-hits packages, it is absolutely one of his most consistent and one of his best.

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