Ronnie Milsap

It Was Almost Like a Song

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Country singer Ronnie Milsap's breakthrough pop album might not have been as earth shattering as Ray Charles Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music, but it did much to modernize mid-'70s C & W with its fusion of the adult contemporary style Barry Manilow introduced with "Mandy," and the formulas Kenny Rogers employed when "Lucille" brought his career back to life. The blind keyboard player/singer shifts from pure country to pure pop like a chameleon on this disc, and does it effortlessly. "Here In Love" plays like Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville," while "The Future Is Not What It Used To Be" pours Bergen White's strings, and The Lea Jane Singers offer a Southern twang -- that fusion of styles executed to perfection. Having players like Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and fiddler Tommy Williams on this album, and co-produced by the singer and Tom Collins, only adds to its mystique. Milsap writes no tunes here, he's just a great interpreter, his voice ever so mournful inside "Crystal Fallin' Rain," and commanding on the title track. "It Was Almost Like A Song" was Number One on the country charts, and in the pop Top 20, a big ballad which Manilow could have easily added to his repertoire. "Selfish" works like a second cousin to the Brenda Lee/Juice Newton hit "Break It To Me Gently," while the repeating title "What A Difference You've Made In My Life" captured some additional adult contemporary airplay for the performer in the mid-'70s. Like that other blind pianist, female country singer Terri Gibbs and her hit from four years later, "Somebody's Knocking," the music here changed what radio programmers would accept. It's music that sparkled on the airwaves when artists had the chance to effectively crossover.

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