Sawyer Brown is not a guy, but rather a band (file them under "S"!) hailing from Apopka, Florida... Although they are known as an '80s band, the group had actually been working together for several years when they were the backing band for singer Don King, a Nashville back-bencher who had a few hits int he late '70s. In the early '80s King quit going out on the road and decided to concentrate on the business side of the music, but the band stayed together and took a few years to scupt their own, upbeat, good-timing pop-country sound. Here's a quick look at their work...
Sawyer Brown "Greatest Hits" (Capitol/Curb, 1990)
(Produced by Mark A. Miller & Randy Scruggs)
A slim, ten-song collection which ably sums up their '80s hitmaking years. These good natured, bar bandish honkytonk rockers had production and songwriting assist by Randy Scruggs (Earl's boy) and pegged more than a few songs in the Top 40. They pay tribute to their elders with rootsy covers like "The Race Is On" and do their best to make the line-dancing young'un crowd happy as well. Their line-dancing anthem, "Step That Step" is pretty catchy, but it is certainly the most memorable of their songs. This isn't earth-shakingly amazing, but other than the slow songs, it ain't bad.
Sawyer Brown "Greatest Hits: 1990-1995" (Curb, 1995)
(Produced by Mark Miller, Mac McAnally & Randy Scruggs)
This picks up where the hits package above left off... these songs are well-crafted, but kinda sleepy. I think songwriter/lead singer Mark Miller went onto a big "serious composer" kick, which is alright, I suppose, if that's what you're looking for. Be nice to hear a little bounce in their work, too, though... They did okay chartwise, though, with "Some Girls Do" pegging out at #1, and "Dirt Road" (one of the better songs on this collection) hitting #3. There's no hook-laden magic like "Step That Step," but nothing that really makes you wince in terror, either, though... So for Nashville in the '90s, this ain't too bad.
Sawyer Brown "Sawyer Brown" (Capitol/Curb, 1985)
Sawyer Brown "Shakin' " (Capitol/Curb, 1986)
Sawyer Brown "Out Goin' Cattin' " (Capitol/Curb, 1986)
Sawyer Brown "Somewhere In The Night" (Capitol/Curb, 1987)
Sawyer Brown "Wide Open" (Capitol/Curb, 1988)
Sawyer Brown "The Boys Are Back" (Capitol/Curb, 1989)
Sawyer Brown "Buick" (Capitol/Curb, 1991)
Sawyer Brown "The Dirt Road" (Curb, 1992)
Sawyer Brown "Cafe On The Corner" (Curb, 1992)
Sawyer Brown "Outskirts Of Town" (Curb, 1993)
Sawyer Brown "This Thing Called Wantin' And Havin' It All" (Curb, 1995)
Sawyer Brown "Six Days On The Road" (Curb, 1997)
(Produced by Mark Miller & Mac McAnally)
This opens with a Civil War ballad, "Another Side," where the Johnny Reb singing the song is a semi-pacifist, looking for another option (how Clintonian!) which is, I suppose, the perfect message for a slick modern country band to take.. merging North and South. Still, this album is hardly a clarion call for anyone looking to rush into the thick of it... Again, while it's finely crafted, it isn't terribly exciting... more like a valiant effort from a likeable band on a slow downward slide. A tepid cover of Dave Dudley's "Six Days" cracked the Top 20, while a remake of (ugh) Michael Johnson's "This Night Won't Last Forever" hit the Top 10... But the heartfelt originals didn't make a dent... Can't say any of them really struck me as hidden gems, either... Nothing special going on here, really...
Sawyer Brown "Hallelujah, He Is Born" (Curb, 1997)
A Christmas album...
Sawyer Brown "Drive Me Wild" (Curb, 1999)
(Produced by Mark Miller & Mac McAnally)
With country chart action slipping out of reach, Miller and the lads apparently decided to just go ahead and play some poppy, rock-y stuff, with bright, jangly guitars and happy, happy vocal refrains... Doesn't do much for me from a country-lover's perspective, but I suppose that Mark Miller fans can take comfort in knowing that this must've been the album he wanted to make. Pretty perky and lightweight.
Sawyer Brown "The Hits... Live" (Curb, 2000)
(Produced by Mark Miller & Brian Tankersley)
Doing a live album was actually a pretty good idea; they seemed to be sliding into a hitless, self-indulgent rut, and this disc is just them having a good time, working their way through all their best material. In some cases, the live performances even have more bounce to them than the studio versions did... the mix of the crowd noise seems suspiciously well-placed, but overall, this album is a lot more vigorous than some of their other recent outings... Worth a spin, especially if you're a fan.
Sawyer Brown "The Hits... Live" (DVD) (Curb, 2000)
Sawyer Brown "Can You Hear Me Now" (Curb, 2002)
Worst album art ever? Pretty close. Anyway, here's another poppy outing, with several songs co-written by AOR legend Dave Loggins... There are a few twang-ish tunes, but nothing that really catches fire... They really seem to have run out of fresh ideas, though I'm sure the band's more diehard fans would hardly notice... which sure is lucky for the band!
Sawyer Brown "True Believer" (Curb, 2003)
(Produced by Mark Miller, Ron Chancey, Mac Macnally, Randy Scruggs & Brian Tankersley)
Adrift since the mid-1990s, Sawyer Brown regain their footing on this religiously-themed compilation album. There's more twang in the mix, and more clarity of purpose, This is probably their strongest album since the early '90s; indeed, it may be a more mature and more moving record than most of their frothier early hits. If you were a fan back then, you'll probably want to check this out, too... It's a pretty strong record, all things considered; the single, "Circles," is pretty catchy, although non-evangelical listeners may be a little turned off by the preachy content.
Sawyer Brown "Mission Temple Fireworks Stand" (Curb, 2005)
Another Christmas album...
Sawyer Brown "Rejoice" (O-Seven, 2008)
Hick Music Index