Johnny Rodriguez was one of the first major Latino country stars, charting early 1970s hits alongside Freddy Fender, crossing into both the countrypolitan and outlaw country sounds. By the end of the decade, his star had fallen somewhat, but he retains a nostalgic spot in the hearts of fans of the era. Here's a quick look at his work...
Johnny Rodriguez "The Hits" (Mercury, 1997)
Although this disc is stingily programmed with a mere eleven tracks, it's still a pretty good summation of Rodriguez's career, with a bunch of his classic 1970s hits. It starts with a nice clump of his throaty Lefty Frizzell soundalike songs. But once the label dudes really got a sense of the kind of crooning Johnny could carry, they started saddling him with woefully sappy, limp romantic ballads, the epitome of which is heard in a silly cover of George Harrison's "Something." His cover of the Eagles' "Desperado" is pretty terrible, too. But the more traditional, honky-tonkish material ain't too bad. Worth checking out, especially if you want to get a sense of how the '70s countrypolitan sound spread and mutated over the years.
Johnny Rodriguez "The Millennium Collection" (Mercury Nashville, 2006)
Johnny Rodriguez "20 Greatest Hits" (Tee Vee, 2008)
Johnny Rodriguez "Introducing Johnny Rodriguez/All I Ever Meant To Do Was Sing" (Hux, 2010)
His first two albums, both from 1973, re-released on a single CD. Long out of print, these will come as a welcome resource for the devoted '70s country fan.
Johnny Rodriguez "Introducing Johnny Rodriguez" (Mercury, 1973)
Johnny Rodriguez "All I Ever Meant To Do Was Sing" (Mercury, 1973)
Johnny Rodriguez "My Third Album" (Mercury, 1974)
Johnny Rodriguez "Songs About Ladies And Love" (Mercury, 1974)
Johnny Rodriguez "Country Classics" (Mercury, 1974)
Johnny Rodriguez "Just Get Up And Close The Door" (Mercury, 1975)
Johnny Rodriguez "Love Put A Song In My Heart" (Mercury, 1976)
Johnny Rodriguez "Reflecting" (Mercury, 1976)
Johnny Rodriguez "Practice Makes Perfect" (Mercury, 1977)
Johnny Rodriguez "Just For You" (Mercury, 1977)
Johnny Rodriguez "Love Me With All Your Heart" (Mercury, 1978)
Johnny Rodriguez "Rodriguez Was Here" (Mercury, 1978)
Johnny Rodriguez "Sketches" (Mercury, 1979)
Johnny Rodriguez "Rodriguez" (Epic, 1979)
Johnny Rodriguez "Through My Eyes" (Epic, 1980)
Johnny Rodriguez "Gypsy" (Epic, 1980)
Johnny Rodriguez "After The Rain" (Epic, 1981)
Johnny Rodriguez "For Every Rose" (Epic, 1983)
Johnny Rodriguez "Foolin' With Fire" (Epic, 1984)
Johnny Rodriguez "Full Circle" (Epic, 1986)
Johnny Rodriguez "Gracias" (Capitol, 1988)
Johnny Rodriguez "Run For The Border" (Intersound, 1993)
Johnny Rodriguez "Funny Things Happen To Fun-Lovin' People Like Me" (Music City, 1995)
Coasting at the edge of the Nashville hit factory, veteran performer Rodriguez sounds better and more soulful here than on most of his classic, Top 40 hits of the 1970s and '80s. Other than a pointless cover of "Down In The Boondocks," this disc is packed with hard country gems. The opener, "One Bar At A Time," is a fine, hard-drinkin' weeper, follwed by several nice heartbreak tunes. Johnny lags a little in his delivery, but mostly it's pretty good stuff, clearly sung with conviction. Worth tracking down!
Johnny Rodriguez "You Can Say That Again" (Hightone, 1996)
The chiming Spanish guitars are a throwback to his old 'Seventies sound, but the song selection, including covers of tunes by Dave Alvin and Lucinda Williams, show Johnny R. standing solidly in the Americana/hard country revival camp. Unlike many Hightone albums, this one was recorded in Nashville, with several old-time studio veterans in the band, including Jerry Kennedy on guitar and Hargus Robbins plunkin' the piano keys. Mostly, it's the strong song selection and heartfelt vocal delivery you'll notice -- anyone who'd written Rodriguez off based on his '70s countrypolitan hits really oughtta track this one down and give the guy another chance.
Johnny Rodriguez "Some Of Mine, Some Of Theirs" (Runnin' Wide Open, 2010)
Hick Music Index