John Anderson

Tokyo, Oklahoma

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People flipped out when John Anderson opened his seventh album with a countrified version of the Valentinos' (led by Bobby Womack) R&B hit "It's All Over Now," familiar to most because the Rolling Stones covered it on 12 X 5. The there a couple of killer tunes in this collection, both rockers and country ballads, but the album didn't crack the Top Ten and two years later Warner dropped him. The best country tune here is "Down in Tennessee" by Wayland Holyfield, famous for many Don Williams hits. The title is a pun, as in "she's up in New York and I'm down in Tennessee," the kind of witty wordplay that used to be a mainstay of Nashville songwriters. Anderson gives the lyric an appropriately downhearted reading. "Till I Get Used to the Pain," "Even a Fool Would Let Go," and Anderson's own "Only Your Love" are the kind of brokenhearted ballads that are often drenched in string sections to give them crossover appeal. Thankfully, Anderson, who co-produced with Jim Ed Norman and Lou Bradley, keeps things basic, with pedal steel adding long sustained notes to intensify the desolate bluesy feel. Somewhat atypical is "I've Got Me a Woman," an arch midtempo ballad full of surrealistic, Dylanesque images riding a lazy, loping Waylon Jennings beat. "Twelve Bar Blues" has a great title, but doesn't really deliver despite some nasty guitar work, "A Little Rock 'N' Roll (And Some Country Blues)" is better, but it's still slight. "Willie's Gone" is a cheatin' song, an R&B-country hybrid, while the title tune, a song about an international affair, has a slightly queasy feel. It's a bluesy rocker and catchy enough, but images of geisha girls and the faux Japanese of the chorus made the tune sound dated, even in 1985.

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