Ronnie Milsap was one of the big countrypolitan/country crossover stars of the 1970s and '80s. Born nearly blind from birth, Milsap struggled for years before breaking into the Top Forty, but when success came, it snowballed for over a decade, with Milsap eventually cracking into the Pop charts in the early '80s. Although his music drifted pretty far away from country twang, it's hard not to enjoy classics like "Smoky Mountain Rain" and even "No Getting Over Me," his big pop hit from 1983. Here's a quick look at his work...
Ronnie Milsap "The Crazy Cajun Recordings" (Edsel, 1998)
Rough-edged, antediluvian country-soul and straight-up R&B recordings made by one of the future kings of overwrought countrypolitan pop. Here he's in sort of a Charlie Rich kinda mode, singing whiteboy country-soul with a nod or two towards Ray Charles. Though poorly engineered, these tracks are kind of fun, certainly not as stuffy as his later work, but also not as resonant. Wish the liner notes were more specific about when these sessions took place.
Ronnie Milsap "40 Number 1 Hits" (Virgin, 2000)
It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally realized: Ronnie Milsap was the Eddy Arnold of the 1980s! A smooth crooner who accomodated himself to the synthy keyboard tinkles of the New Wave era, Milsap had several cannily-crafted hits that I have to admit I count among my guilty pleasures, particularly "Smoky Mountain Rain and "No Gettin' Over Me," even -- ahem, gulp -- "I Wouldn't Have Missed It For The World." The trouble, of course, is when Ronnie convinced himself he was actually the country music Barry White (him and four bazillion other guys!) he started crooning softly into the mic, and his tunes lost their pop hooks in favor of a presumed intimacy between him and his audience. As a result, listening to this disc from beginning to end is kind of torturous; these tunes may have all been chart-toppers, but that's more testimony to the power of promotions and the stranglehold Nashville has over radioland, rather than to the merit of the songs themselves. Sure, the hits are nice, but, hey, that's what oldies radio was made for.
Ronnie Milsap "The Essential Ronnie Milsap" (Sony-BMG Legacy, 2006)
All hits, all the time. This new 2-CD set, the first made after the merger of Sony Records and BMG, has near-total overlap with the 40 #1 Hits collection that came out a few years ago, but with better graphics and (one presumes) a new sound mix. So, this is the new standard-issue Milsap best-of... His fans will be stoked, though it's not clear what this set offers that the previous ones did not...
Ronnie Milsap "Greatest Hits" (RCA, 1980)
Ronnie Milsap "Greatest Hits, v.2" (RCA, 1985)
Ronnie Milsap "Greatest Hits, v.3" (RCA, 1991)
Ronnie Milsap "Pure Love/A Legend In My Time" (Eagle Music, 2004)
A twofer CD reissue of two of Milsap's early albums, Pure Love and A Legend In My Time, listed below.
Ronnie Milsap "Ronnie Milsap" (Warner, 1971) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Where My Heart Is" (RCA, 1973) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Pure Love" (RCA, 1974)
Ronnie Milsap "A Legend In My Time" (RCA, 1975)
Ronnie Milsap "A Rose By Any Other Name" (Warner, 1975)
Ronnie Milsap "Night Things" (RCA, 1975)
Ronnie Milsap "20/20 Vision" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Live" (RCA, 1976) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "It Was Almost Like A Song" (RCA, 1977)
Ronnie Milsap "Only One Love In My Life" (RCA, 1978) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Images" (RCA, 1979) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Milsap Magic" (RCA, 1980) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "Out Where The Bright Lights Are Glowing" (RCA, 1981) (LP)
Ronnie Milsap "There's No Gettin' Over Me" (RCA, 1981)
Ronnie Milsap "Inside" (RCA, 1982)
Ronnie Milsap "Keyed Up" (RCA, 1983)
Ronnie Milsap "One More Try For Love" (RCA, 1984)
Ronnie Milsap "Lost In The Fifties Tonight" (RCA, 1985)
Ronnie Milsap "Christmas With Ronnie Milsap" (RCA, 1986)
Ronnie Milsap "Heart And Soul" (RCA, 1987)
Ronnie Milsap "Stranger Things Have Happened" (RCA, 1989)
Ronnie Milsap "Back To The Grindstone" (RCA, 1991)
Ronnie Milsap "True Believer" (Liberty, 1993)
Ronnie Milsap "Sings His Best Hits For Capitol Records" (Capitol, 1996)
Ronnie Milsap "Live" (Image Entertainment, 2002)
Ronnie Milsap "Just For A Thrill" (Image Music Group, 2004)
Milsap tries his hand out at swanky, slick, Harry Connick, Jr.-style big band/pop vocal tunes, indulging in old standards like "My Funny Valentine," "Cry," "Since I Fell For You," etc. It's not my cup of tea, exactly, but for the genre it's pretty good. Milsap's voice is still in excellent form, and folks who like modernized swing music will probably enjoy this quite a bit.
Ronnie Milsap "My Life" (RCA, 2006)
Ronnie Milsap "Then Sings My Soul" (Image Music Group, 2009)
Ronnie Milsap "Country Again" (Warner/Milsap Music, 2011)
(Produced by Rob Galbraith & Ronnie Milsap)
A solid new album from one of country's biggest 1970s hitmakers... Milsap still has his classic sound -- a unique mix of bright, shiny twang and Vegas-y pop -- and performs with the same cheerful, upbeat vitality of his younger years. A surprisingly strong set from an old countrypolitan warrior, one that will be sure to delight his longtime fans.
Ronnie Milsap "Summer Number Seventeen" (Sony Legacy, 2014)
(Produced by Richard Landis, Rob Galbraith & Ronnie Milsap)
This is the first album in years for this sophisticated '70s/'80s chart-topper, and though Milsap's voice isn't as supple as it once was, devoted fans may enjoy hearing him run through this setof oldies and standards such as "Mustang Sally," "It's All In The Game," "Georgia On My Mind," and "Mack The Knife." The new material includes the nostalgia-drenched title track and "Make Up," a duet with country gal Mandy Barnett.
Hick Music Index