Alabama

The Closer You Get

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On their fourth album The Closer You Get, Alabama gets further away from the country roots and down-home charm responsible for their incredible chart success. One may be surprised at the unusual number of ballads, but popular country in the early '80s, in hindsight, seems more suited to adult easy listening than country with the popularity of Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, and Dolly Parton. The songwriting is strong, and the vocal harmonies still blend unlike any other country band -- in fact, the members of Alabama trade lead vocal roles throughout the album. However, this album suffers from glossy production and the use of synthesizers. The use of a drum machine on the opening title track is nearly unforgivable, and the arrangement distracts the listener from an otherwise good song. However, Alabama shines when they use more traditional country arrangements. Upbeat songs like "Red River" and "Dixieland Delight" are great additions to their catalog and demonstrate how they became one of country's most successful groups. This is not the place to start, but most fans should eventually own this album.

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