Conway Twitty

#1's: The Warner Brothers Years

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There are a couple of statistics in the late Conway Twitty's career that are rather astonishing: the first is that he scored 52 number one hits in the 30 years between 1958 and 1988. Just how astonishing can be illustrated this way: 52 number ones is more than the Beatles, more than Elvis Presley, and more than Frank Sinatra. The second -- and what might appear minor in comparison but is actually more so -- is that ten of them were between 1982 and 1988, near the end of his major-label recording career for Warner Bros. Twitty scored during every major change in the music, from honky tonk to countrypolitan to outlaw to urban cowboy to the dawn of the new traditionalist era. The true influence of Twitty has yet to be recognized, but he was a major player when country music was at its most invisible. In fact, it can be said that Conway was countrypolitan and made the whole mess cross over into the mainstream for the very first time. These ten tracks do not measure Twitty's best work. But they do show he could sing any kind of song and put enough behind it to make it utterly believable. These ten tunes do contain a few real treasures, such as "I Don't Know a Thing About Love (The Moon Song)" by Harlan Howard and the smash "Slow Hand" (that scored big for the Pointer Sisters in 1981, before Twitty cut it and remade it in his own image). Also here, from the Warner period, Twitty had the audacity to cut Amanda McBroom's "The Rose," a career-defining moment for Bette Midler as the title track for the 1979 film she starred in. The final number here, something written especially for Twitty, is "The Clown," a ballad that showcases that rough but utterly tender baritone for all it's worth. Conway Twitty was among the greatest singles artists in popular music history, and this collection is only a small sliver of the proof of that.

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