Marty Robbins

I've Got a Woman's Love/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

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The two albums that comprise this CD were originally released within a couple of years of each other on the same label. I've Got a Woman's Love came out on Columbia in 1972, and the same company put out Have I Told You Lately That I Love You in 1974. The label and time period are really the only things the LPs had in common, however, and actually don't make for either a good combination, or the best way to appreciate Marty Robbins' talent. Although the title track of I've Got a Woman's Love was a small country hit, the LP didn't show Robbins at his best or most characteristic. It had a disproportionate number of popular standards like "Misty" and "It Had to Be You" that had nothing to do with country in content or arrangement, with lush settings that might have been good vehicles for Robbins to get his Frank Sinatra aspirations out of his system, but weren't useful for anything else. The other material was for the most part middle of the road, early-'70s country that was far from his best, bottoming out with the embarrassingly sentimental ode to his ten-year-old daughter, "Janet." It's also filled out -- since Robbins left Columbia for a brief stint at MCA around this time -- by some tracks that had already appeared on early-'70s singles, like "The Best Part of Living," "The City," "At Times," "A Little Spot in Heaven," and "Gone with the Wind." Heard directly after I've Got a Woman's Love, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You is like a breath of fresh air, being a compilation of ten tracks that had originally found release in either 1957 or 1967 (and no years in between). Which is itself an odd barrel-scraping exercise, and although they're fine performances in the honky-tonk or Western balladeer strains that suit Robbins' strengths, the material has been presented in better contexts on other releases. Certainly there are good tunes on the Have I Told You Lately That I Love You half of the CD -- "Tonight Carmen," "Love's Gone Away," and "The Girl with Gardenias in Her Hair" have the Tex-Mex/mariachi feel at which Robbins excelled, and if the Hank Williams covers from 1957 aren't among his more original recordings, they're well done. But the juxtaposition of these Columbia LPs is incongruous and unsatisfying.

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