The Glaser Brothers

Lovin' Her Was Easier

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As outlaws slowly but surely metamorphosized into slick Urban Cowboys, the orneriest of all outlaws, Tompall Glaser made a typically unpredictable move: he reunited with his estranged brothers. He had left them behind at the beginning of the '70s as he pursued wilder, woollier territory, but when he teamed back up with his siblings he smoothed out some of his rough edges -- not so much making concessions to contemporary trends as simply fitting back in with his old crew. The Glaser Brothers signed to Elektra and released two records -- 1981's Lovin' Her Was Easier and the following year's After All These Years -- that straddled the line between Tompall's outlaw and urban cowboy; the attitude was a bit rebellious but the sound made the albums easier fits for a country radio that was getting increasingly slick. And these two records did make some impact on the airwaves -- the cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)" was a significant hit, reaching number two on the country charts -- and in retrospect they have many of the aural hallmarks of early-'80s country-pop, particularly in the big drums and polished veneer that sounded like it was built on synths even if it wasn't. Even so, beneath that sheen the Glaser Brothers were thankfully as idiosyncratic as ever in their song choices and how they blended American styles. Lovin' Her Was Easier was built upon covers, highlighted by a lazily mournful reading of Harlan Howard's "Busted" and a surprisingly light version of Hank Williams' "A Mansion on the Hill," and it also revived the wonderful "Drinking Them Beers" which Tompall had cut for MGM. It's not just that much of this music was familiar: the Glaser Brothers adhere to the folky, harmony-heavy progressive country that made their early-'70s records so distinctive, and even if Lovin' Her Was Easier is just a shade smoother than those records, it works to their benefit: it helps make the record feel as warm and friendly as a reunion should. It was a warmth that didn't last long: they split up, this time for good, after their next album, After All These Years.