'Seventies countrypolitan superstar Lynn Anderson was one of the biggest hitmakers in the early part of the decade, most notably for her blockbuster version of Joe South's "Rose Garden," one of the catchiest, most irresistible pop songs ever recorded. Anderson was initially known as the daughter of songwriter Liz Anderson, and went from being a B-list country gal on the independent Chart label to one of the biggest names in the glossy, poppy countrypolitan scene, becoming one of country music's best-known female stars. By mid-decade, Anderson's music, along with the rest of the style, fell into a creative slump -- what once seemed bright and new or unlikely and bold soon became perfunctory and bland, and her persona increasingly relied on purring, sultry come-ons, basically more of the same old stuff, with little new juice or fire in the mix. Still, she could really hit the mark when the mood was right. Here's a quick look at her work...
Lynn Anderson "16 Greatest Hits" (Columbia-Legacy, 1976/2006)
The daughter of one of Merle Haggard's favorite songwriters (Liz Anderson), Lynn more or less had an open ticket to Music City stardom. She first cut her teeth recording novelty-oriented "spunky" material for the independent Chart label, then hit the big time recording for Columbia. This disc samples both those phases, including her biggest hit, "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden," a gigantic countrypolitan crossover hit in 1970, a genre-defining tune that stayed on the radio for years and years... Anderson's countrypolitan sound quickly devolved into tragically slick formula -- witness the contrast between the perky "Stay There Til I Get There," or "Ride, Ride, Ride," which opens this collection, and the bland, belabored pop that followed... Wonder where Crystal Gayle got her sound? Look no further. Still, her best material was really fun, and I'll always have a soft spot for her work. This is a good oldies set, and if you're looking into the '70s country sounds, this is a must-have.
Lynn Anderson "Anthology: The Chart Years" (Renaissance, 1999)
Lynn Anderson's early work, recorded for the independent Chart label, between 1966-71. Spunky, charmingly awkward and clumsily formulaic, and yet kinda raw and untamed, and a lot more fun than most of her later work on Columbia. Definitely worth checking out!
Lynn Anderson "Anthology: The Columbia Years" (Sony/Renaissance, 1999)
The daughter of one of Merle Haggard's favorite songwriters (Liz Anderson), Lynn more or less had an open ticket to Music City stardom. This long-overdue collection shows her soldiering on through on the below-the-radar releases on the independent Chart label, before signing to CBS and graduating to superstardom as one of the biggest names in the early '70s countrypolitan scene. Personally, I think the Chart material is tops, a little unruly, but more charming for its flaws than the super-perfect stuff she did later on. Anyway, here's where Anderson hit the big time: "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" was a gigantic hit in 1970, and stayed on the radio for years and years... Anderson's sound quickly devolved into tragically slick formula -- witness the contrast between the perky "Stay There Til I Get There," which opens this collection, and the bland, belabored pop that followed. Wonder where Crystal Gayle got her sound? Look no further. Still, even though this collection prunes out what little rootsiness the label left on her records, it is a fairly definitive look at her slickest hits. Personally, I'd go for the spunky set of early Chart material instead, still, this has some great tunes on it, and is well worth checking out.
Lynn Anderson "Greatest Hits" (Collector's Choice, 2004)
Wa-hoo! Although she was a mega-huge star in the early 1970s, when her version of Joe South's "Rose Garden" became one of the greatest countrypolitan hits ever, Lynn Anderson's legacy has been poorly served in recent years. Her last serious best-of sets (reviewed above) were on the fly-by-night Renaissance label, and these flew quickly out of print. In particular, her dynamic early recordings for the independent Chart label -- the focus of one of the two Renaissance discs -- has faded from sight, remembered by only a few old fans. This new album is the actually first collection that gathers her Chart material with hits from her long run on Columbia Records, a long-overdue real career retrospective that highlights both her most upbeat and most ornate musical moments. "Rose Garden" is, of course, the apex -- (what an amazing pop song!!) -- but there are plenty of other nice oldies on here, including spunky numbers like "Stay There 'Til I Get There," "Talkin' To The Wall," "Flattery Will Get You Everywhere," "No Another Time" and "That's A No-No." Early on, Lynn recorded a lot of songs written by her mother, Liz Anderson, and these are all lots of fun; later as the whole "countrypolitan" thing got a little too serious and stuffy, her endless stream of erotically-tinged, overly orchestrated love songs got to be kind of repetitive, and her chart hits dwindled. To their credit, the folks at Collector's Choice do a fine job balancing this material, giving a good picture of her commercial career while also packing in enough musical goodies to keep more traditionally-oriented country fans hooked as well. This is a must-have for serious students of country history.
Lynn Anderson "Ride, Ride, Ride" (Chart, 1967) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Promises, Promises" (Chart, 1967) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Big Girls Don't Cry" (Chart, 1967) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "With Love From Lynn" (Chart, 1969) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "At Home With Lynn" (Chart, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Slim Williamson)
Lynn Anderson "Songs That Made Country Girls Famous" (Chart, 1969) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Uptown Country Girl" (Chart, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Slim Williamson)
Right on the cusp of signing with Columbia, Anderson is clearly an artist who hasn't quite been given the right guidance from her Nashville handlers... There are parts of songs such as "He'd Still Love Me" that, in retrospect, sound familiar, where she starts to cut loose and unleash the swooping, soaring vocals that marked her early megahits like "Rose Garden..." But apparently nobody knew what to do with these powerful sounds, and the arrangements remain tame and unimaginative -- the vision just wasn't there. Which isn't to say there aren't some okay songs on here, including a few middle-rung hits that were piggybacked onto her success at Columbia. Her version of Hank Snow's "I've Been Everywhere" is kind of inert -- though it charted -- while covers of Mickey Newbury's "Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye" and Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" have a little more oomph. Probably the most distinctive tracks are a pair of bilingual German/English novelty numbers originally released as singles in Germany: "Morgen Wirst Du Weider Bei Mir Sein" and "Ich Habe Einen Boy In Germany," which have perky, mod-pop arrangments similar to her earlier work in the mid-'60s. Not a classic album, but it's got its moments.
Lynn Anderson "Songs My Mother Wrote" (Chart, 1970) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "I'm Alright" (Chart, 1970) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "...With Strings" (Chart, 1971)
Lynn Anderson "Stay There 'Til I Get There" (Columbia, 1970) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "No Love At All" (Columbia, 1970) (LP) (*)
Lynn Anderson "Rose Garden" (Columbia, 1970)
Lynn Anderson "You're My Man" (Columbia, 1971)
Lynn Anderson "How Can I Unlove You" (Columbia, 1971) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "The Christmas Album" (Columbia, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Glenn Sutton)
Lynn Anderson "A Woman Lives For Love" (Columbia, 1971) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Cry" (Columbia, 1972) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Listen To A Country Song" (Columbia, 1972) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Keep Me In Mind" (Columbia, 1973) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Top Of The World" (Columbia, 1973) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Smile For Me" (Columbia, 1974) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "What A Man My Man Is" (Columbia, 1974) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "I've Never Loved Anyone More" (Columbia, 1975) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "All The King's Horses" (Columbia, 1976) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "I Love What His Love Is Doing To Me/He Ain't You" (Columbia, 1977) (LP)
Solid, factory-issued '70s countrypolitan, packed with aggressive string arrangements that elbow their way into your ears and all the little studio filips that marked the music of the time. It's mercilessly formulaic, but in some ways this is one of her better albums. It's not as slushy as some of the post-"Rose Garden" albums, nor as desperately disco-ed out as later albums would be. She had a few moderate hits off this one, but also several flops: her covers of AOR hits "Desperado" and "Right Time Of The Night" were both pretty unnecessary, and the bland sexuality of "We Got Love" must've seemed pretty tame at the tail end of the 'Seventies swinger scene. Still, ya could do worse.
Lynn Anderson "From The Inside" (Columbia, 1978) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Outlaw Is Just A State Of Mind" (Columbia, 1979) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" (Columbia, 1980) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Memories And Desires" (Era, 1982) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "Back" (Permian, 1983) (LP)
Lynn Anderson "What She Does Best" (Mercury, 1988)
Lynn Anderson "Cowboy's Sweetheart" (Delta/Laserlight, 1992)
Lynn Anderson "Lynn Anderson's Latest And Greatest" (Laserlight, 1992)
Re-recordings of her classic hits...
Lynn Anderson "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" (Smith Music Group, 2000)
Lynn Anderson "Home For The Holidays" (Smith Music Group, 2002)
A lot of this is just way too gooey... There are dips back into the old countrypolitan orchestral mode, but also solid forays into the blander, tinkly-piano arrangements of contemporary Christian pop, which are much less endearing. Guess it depends on what you're looking for...
Lynn Anderson "The Bluegrass Sessions" (DM Records, 2004)
Lynn Anderson "Live From The Rose Garden" (Cleopatra, 2005)
Lynn Anderson "Greatest Hits" (Compendia, 2005)
Actually, these are the same recordings originally released as Latest And Greatest in 1998. This version is missing a couple of songs, though, so if you're into her later stuff, you might wanna look around for those earlier versions instead...
Lynn Anderson "Cryin' " (2006)
Lynn Anderson "Cowgirl" (Showboat, 2008)
Lynn Anderson "Cowgirl II" (Showboat, 2010)
Lynn Anderson "The Best Of Lynn Anderson" (Chart, 1968)
Lynn Anderson "Greatest Hits" (Chart, 1971)
Lynn Anderson "Lynn Anderson" (Chart, 1971)
Another best-of set from her Chart years...
Lynn Anderson "The World Of Lynn Anderson" (Columbia, 1971)
An early best-of set...
Lynn Anderson "Greatest Hits" (Columbia, 1972)
Lynn Anderson "Greatest Hits, v.2" (Columbia, 1976)
Lynn Anderson "Encore" (Columbia, 1970)
Hick Music Index