Johnny Duncan cut an imposing figure: a tall, bearded Texan who seemed like he would bash out barroom ravers instead of crooning sweet country tunes and ballads. Which, of course, is what he did, producing a series of easy-rolling hits -- including several duets with Janie Fricke -- that kept him in the country Top Ten during the second half of the '70s. As his career rolled on, he moved further away from straightforward country and toward poppy, good-time country, slickly produced by Billy Sherrill and sung warmly by Duncan. In retrospect, his hits pointed toward the pop-country crossover of urban cowboy that followed just a few years later, particularly in how it covered '60s pop hits, appropriated breezy mariachi horns, and had a general sunny, party-ready disposition. Collector Choice's 2002 collection It Couldn't Have Been Any Better captures all of this and, years after Duncan ruled the charts and became something of a forgotten name, this music is still easy to enjoy. All of his country Top 40 hits from his hitmaking streak are here -- including the number one hits "It Couldn't Have Been Any Better" and "She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed (Anytime)" and four duets with Fricke, highlighted by "Thinkin' of a Rendezvous" -- and if the music does indeed sound a bit tied to the '70s, it nevertheless is enjoyable period-piece music with a warm feeling and nicely sung by Duncan who has a friendly, laid-back persona. Not essential, then, but worth seeking out for listeners who like their '70s country kind of traditional but with a notable pop bent.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: June Stearns