Don't Let Our Dreams Die Young, Tom Jones' third country album for Mercury Records (following 1981's Darlin' and 1982's Tom Jones Country) was the most successful of the three, reaching the country Top Ten and spawning two chart singles, the Top 20 "I've Been Rained On Too" and the Top 30 "This Time." Jones had signaled his country leanings as early as 1966 when he covered Porter Wagoner's "Green, Green Grass of Home" for a pop hit, and a decade later he had scored a surprise country chart-topper with "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow." But he didn't turn to the country market full-time until the early '80s, following the decline in his pop career. His Nashville success was based on his modesty; born in Wales, he did not come on as a true country singer and ruffle the feathers of the natives as British-born Olivia Newton-John had. For Jones, country was just another musical style to play behind his singing, and his approach was the same as Dean Martin's. He just wore a cowboy hat in the album cover photographs to signal his intentions, let his arrangers include a steel guitar and his producers sample the wares of the Nashville song publishers, and sang with his usual assurance. Thus, he was no threat to anybody, and country radio programmers and fans were happy to let him dabble. The best song on this album was the leadoff track, Kieran Kane and Bruce Channel's "You've Got a Right," and, with a synthesizer part as prominent as the steel guitar, it had an arrangement that could have landed it on the pop charts as easily as the country charts if Jones' handlers decided the time was right to cross back over. The rest was average Nashville fare, though Roger Greenaway and Bobby Whitlock's "This Time" came off like an homage to honky tonk standards of the past. Jones looked dashing in a suede version of a Civil War uniform on the front and back covers, an outfit he could have worn as easily at Caesar's Palace as at the Grand Ole Opry, and probably did.
Don't Let Our Dreams Die Young Review
by William Ruhlmann