Sweethearts Of The Rodeo were a sister duo, comprised of Kristine and Janis Oliver (who had changed to the married names of Kristine Arnold and Janis Gill, by the time they started their career as a duo in the mid-1980s). They hit the Nashville scene with a big splash and had several Top Ten hits. At first blush, they come off as a rootsy neotrad act with a nice nod towards the Everly Brothers' harmony style -- tunes like "Midnight Girl" and "Hey Doll Baby" have a bouncy guileless melodic bounce that's a real delight to hear, but as the albums roll on, the arrangements get thicker and the '50s rock-isms get a little cloying. The Sweethearts also recorded a pair of rootsy records for the independent Sugar Hill label... Here's a quick look at their work.
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Anthology" (Renaissance, 2000)
Amazingly, this out-of-print CD is the only best-of collection to come out in the decade-plus years since the gals disbanded. It's a nice set, generously programmed to include hits and non-hits alike. Not unsurprisingly, there's a strong stylistic similarity to Janis Gill's husband, Vince Gill, who was a rising star at the time... He plays guitar on several tracks, joined by other youthful Nashvillers, such as Rodney Crowell, Hank De Vito and others in and around the Emmylou Harris orbit... These albums are worth checking out, but they fall flat after starting out with great promise. Anyway, if you want a good introduction to their work, this disc fits the bill.
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Sweethearts Of The Rodeo/One Time, One Night" (Columbia, 1989)
A twofer reissue of their first two albums, with many of their best-known songs...
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Sweethearts Of The Rodeo" (Columbia, 1986)
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "One Time, One Night" (Columbia, 1988)
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Buffalo Zone" (Columbia, 1990)
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Sisters" (Columbia, 1992)
(Produced by Steve Buckingham & Wendy Waldman)
A nonstop procession of semi-confessional, sunshine-y, (secularly) inspirational tunes, many with semi-feminist themes... Some of the songs are okay, but the tenor of the album as a whole is a bit cloying and contrived. Still, if you like the Judds, these late-vintage Sweethearts recordings should make ya really happy.
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Rodeo Waltz" (Sugar Hill, 1993)
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Beautiful Lies" (Sugar Hill, 1996)
Sweethearts Of The Rodeo "Restless" (APA, 2010)
(Produced by Dave Pomeroy & The Sweethearts Of The Rodeo)
The sister duo of Kristine and Janis Oliver hit Nashville with a big splash and had several Top Ten hits in the 1980s, and then, like many artists of the era, found themselves slipping back into indie territory. This album is their first release in many a moon, and it's a rootsy record with a strong dose of the bouncy "young country" vibe of their old stuff, as well as some of the sappy balladry of the style. Their voices have aged, obviously, but the sister harmonies are still compelling and true, and the true twang of their backing band, full of gratifying steel guitar and chicken-pickin' licks that would make Chet proud. Fans'll be psyched to hear the Oliver gals back in action.
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