|First posted 9/13/2020.|
A Retrospective: 1980-1998
A Brief History:
The country Alabama formed in 1976. After a couple of minor hits in the late ’70s, they took off in the eighties, landing 32 songs on the country song chart, 27 of which went to #1. They picked up five more chart-toppers in the ‘90s giving them a total of 32 trips to the pinnacle, making them the most successful country group of all time. Astonishingly, after a few shake-ups in the drum chair in their early years, the quartet’s lineup remained the same from 1979 through 1998.
The Studio Albums:
My Home’s in Alabama (1980):
This was actually Alabama’s fourth album, but this was their breakthrough. Their three albums released in the ‘70s had gone nowhere, but after signing to RCA Records, the group went on one of the most impressive chart runs in country music history for the next decade.
* live version
Feels So Right (1981):
After My Home’s in Alabama launched Alabama, Feels So Right took them into the strasophere. The album sold four million copies in the U.S. fueled by three chart-topping country songs.
Mountain Music (1982):
This was Alabama’s best-selling studio album, moving five million copies, thanks to three #1 country songs.
The Closer You Get (1983):
This four-million selling album added another three #1 country songs to Alabama’s already stunning track record.
Roll On (1984):
This was Alabama’s fourth album in a row to top four million in sales. In terms of #1 songs, this was Alabama’s most successful album to-date with four songs topping the country charts.
40 Hour Week (1985):
This was Alabama’s sixth consecutive multi-platinum record. Their Christmas album, also released that year, would also hit two million in sales and marked the group’s last seller hit that level.
Alabama’s first greatest hits collection mixed two new songs alongside eight songs which had hit the country charts from 1980 to 1985. It’s hard to argue with anything that’s here, but it is worth noting what is absent. At this point in their career, Alabama had already amassed 18 #1 songs on the country charts, but only 7 of them are present here. This collection overlooks The Closer You Get and Roll On completely and only acknowledges Mountain Music and 40 Hour Week with one song each.
The Touch (1986):
Alabama’s first studio album after their first greatest hits collection was also their first album since the ‘70s to sell less than two million copies. It was still a platinum seller with two #1 country songs, one of which was a remake of the Carpenters’ “Touch Me When We’re Dancing.” The next two greatest-hits compilations, however, ignored this album. That was finally corrected with 1998’s For the Record.
- Touch Me When We’re Dancing (9/20/86, 1 CW) FR
- You’ve Got the Touch (1/24/87, 1 CW) FR
Just Us (1987):
“Tar Top” was the first non-Christmas song with Alabama as the lead artist to not reach #1 since 1980’s “My Home’s in Alabama.” They shot right back to the top with their next two singles.
- Tar Top (8/22/87, 7 CW)
- Face to Face (with K.T. Oslin) (12/5/87, 1 CW) G3,FR
- Fallin’ Again (4/23/88, 1 CW) G2,FR
Southern Star (1988):
This was Alabama’s second album (after 1984’s Roll On) to land four songs atop the country charts. This was also their eighth and final #1 album during the 1980-1998 era.
- Song of the South (11/26/88, 1 CW) G2,FR
- If I Had You (3/11/89, 1 CW) FR
- High Cotton (8/12/89, 1 CW) G2,FR
- Southern Star (12/9/89, 1 CW) FR
Pass It on Down (1990):
This was Alabama’s first album since 1980’s My Home’s in Alabama to not top the charts. It did, however, pull off a feat not accomplished by any of their other studio albums – it sent five songs to the top-five of the country chart. “Jukebox in My Mind” spent four weeks on top – the longest for any of Alabama’s #1 songs.
- Pass It on Down (4/28/90, 3 CW)
- Jukebox in My Mind (7/28/90, 1 CW) G3,FR
- Forever’s A Far As I’ll Go (11/17/90, 1 CW, 15 AC) G3,FR
- Down Home (3/2/91, 1 CW) FR
- Here We Are (6/8/91, 2 CW) FR
Greatest Hits Vol. II
The second Alabama compilation mixes three new songs with eight songs which topped the country charts from 1982 to 1989. Five of these songs could have been on the first greatest hits collection, yet there’s still four more #1 country songs from that era not represented on either collection. This set also omits plenty of songs which had been hits since Greatest Hits, completely overlooking the Just Us and Pass It on Down albums, and a total of seven more #1 country chart-toppers.
American Pride (1992):
The album sent four songs to the top-3 of the country chart and went platinum, but peaked at #11, making this Alabama’s first album to miss the top ten since 1979.
Cheap Seats (1993):
This album featured “Reckless” as its lead single. It was the last time Alabama would top the country charts during the 1980-1998 era.
Greatest Hits Vol. III
Like the two previous anthologies, this one adds a handful of new songs to hits from throughout Alabama’s career. This set primarily plays catch up, gathering together four songs from the first Greatest Hits era (1980-1986) and three more from the years between that collection and Greatest Hits Vol. II (1986-1991). That means that only two songs from this set were hits since 1991. To be fair, Alabama had only released two studio albums since Greatest Hits Vol. II, but they’d produced eight country hits, making for yet another hits collection from Alabama that overlooks multiple hits from the era it supposedly covers.
In Pictures (1995):
While the album did feature three songs which hit the top-five of the country chart, it also showed the slipping audiences for the group with two songs missing the top 10 entirely.
Dancin’ on the Boulevard (1997):
The last studio album from the 1980-1998 era. While the band’s audience had slipped a bit, this album did sell a million copies, giving the group a perfect record with all 14 studio albums from 1980-1998 going platinum.
For the Record: 41 Number One Hits
This two-disc collection offered a career retrospective of Alabama from 1980 to 1998, including all 33 songs to top the Billboard country song chart and three new songs. This collection covers nearly all the songs from the three greatest hits plus a whopping fifteen more hits, nine of which hit the top of the country charts, from that same era.
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