1988's Still Holdin On was the first release since the break-up of the
original band in 1983. It had been a five year span since the last release
Greetings From South Carolina. Eagerly awaited by MTB fans, this CD
released on Polygram Records seemed to lack a direction and is unlike any
release by the band, before or since.
Produced by Larry Butler, it would be his first, last,
and only time working with the band. As the first MTB release to be recorded in
Nashville, primarily by studio musicians and without songs written by the band,
it adds up to "Music City" music that lacks the trademark Tucker
Fortunately for Tucker fans, Doug Gray's vocals and
Jerry Eubanks' flute and sax are familiar favorites on the CD, and with all
things considered, the album ultimately overcomes its pitfalls. Most of
the songs are slower than usual Tucker fare, as a result Doug's voice stands out
like never before.
The CD kicks off with "Dancin' Shoes," an
upbeat tune about the day-to-day drudgery of working 9-to-5 and the release that
dancing brings. "Keeping The Love Alive" is the first of many ballads
on the album and is a story about a couple trying to hold on to their romance.
"Once You Get The Feel of It" was released as a single and reached the
Top 40 on country radio. It's about coming of age and the letting go of
inhibitions. "Still Holdin On" is the stand-out cut on the
album. In amny ways it is reminiscent of "Herad It In a Love
Song" - both lyrically and muscially. Jerry's flute and the piano
give the song a familiar sound that makes it as comfortable as an old flannel
shirt. The song is about a man sesoned by the years who eflects back on
his youth. Although he doesn't "spring back like I used to" he
confides, "I'm still holdin' on to my crazy dreams." Neither
lost love nor age has broken his optimism. The song would sound at home on
any Tucker album, as if Toy write it himself. It could be the sequesl to
The next track, "Dangerous Road," features a
country-pickin guitar that wraps itself around lyrics that count the casualties
of love. "Hangin Out In Smoky Places" - another country Top 40
hit for the band- is a cry-in-your beer ramble about a broken hearted soul.
"I'm Glad It's Gone" is a subtle song about seeing the bright side in
the aftermath of relationships. Carrying on in this vein is "Why Did You
Lie," whose tempo moves from upbeat to sullen and back again
"The Same Old Moon" is another stand-out song
that Doug sings in a slow, soulful tempo that exemplifies his awesome prowess as
a singer. Jerry's reflective sax seems to reverberate straight to the
heart. Keyboards enhance the mood that takes you to a moonlit night by the
lake, and the bittersweet reminiscing of youthful love and a daddy's advice to
his heartbroken son. The song slowly fades as Eubanks' sax and back-up
singers lull you off to dreamland.
The disc ends with a romp written by prodigious
Nashville tunesmith Bob McDill titled "Why Didn't I Think of That."
As throughout most of the album it is sung through the perspective of a man
that's learned from his mistakes just a love too late. It was later
recorded and released as a single with much success by Doug Stone.
Unfortunately the band's newcomers, Rusty Milner,
Stuart Sawanlund, Tim Lawter and Ace Allen didn't have a chance to showcase
their songwriting and musical talents as they would on later albums. Doug
and Jerry knew what they were doing when they asked these guys to join the band
- they are gifted and talented. Apparently, the record label didn't agree,
and perhaps that's why the band only recorded one album for them.
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