Turn That Noise Down - Billy Ray Cyrus

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1992 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Susan gives some to Some Gave All...

To answer all the initial questions that you will have by now shouted incredulously at me already

a) Yes, really,
b) Yes, Miley’s dad,
c) Yes, he had more songs than that one,
and d) Yes, again, really. I did actually, voluntarily, listen to the whole album again.

And, d’you know what? It was mostly good fun. It’s one of those albums that I bought at the time because I did like that song when it first came out - so I’m a closet Country fan, so what? - but I haven’t really listened to it since then. Seeing it appear on this year’s retrospective list gave me the incentive to dust it off and introduce you [i.e. subject you - Ed] to the sounds of Billy Ray Cyrus with this, his debut album. Going track by track:

First up is It Could’ve Been Me (not to be confused with daughter Miley’s excellent recent cover of Yvonne Fair’s It Should’ve Been Me) and it’s a marvellously “everybody left me and the dog’s gone too”-type country song that has very depressing lyrics and a boppy little melody, replete with steel guitar and accordion.

And that sets us up for that One Hit Wonder song that everybody knows. Let me tell you, yes, it’s just as sticky an earworm as it was back in the day but I also defy you to not at least tap along to it. It also proved to me that I’m not as fit as I used to be as three and a half minutes of line-dancing round the kitchen to it damn near killed me.

Anyway, a change of pace is called for after that and that is delivered in spades by the ballad that is She’s Not Crying Any More. Strict foxtrot time, as is required by the majority of country ballads, lots of guitar and a slushfest of lyrics make this a real end-of-the-night shuffle round the pub dance-floor.

Where’m I Gonna Live? is one of these wonderful tongue in cheek relationship pisstakes that country music is so good at -

“She decided she would keep my cat
My transportation I wouldn't be a needin' that
She kept my TV, the bills she gave to me
So where'm I gonna live when I get home.”

Quite! Oh, and the honkytonk piano is really cool too.

These Boots are Made for Walking rounds out the first half of the album and, yes, it is a cover of the Nancy Sinatra classic that I wanted to hate [because, “classic” - Ed] but ended up chairbopping to because it’s just such an infectious song. The only thing that was missing was the “C’mon boots, start walkin’.”

Someday, Somewhere, Somehow is next and sounds to me like it’s foreshadowing the Christian music that he sidetracked into for a while later in his music career. It’s not religious in its content but it’s just got that sound, you know? It’s just one step away from gospel.

By contrast, Never Thought I’d Fall In Love With You is a lot rockier and almost Springsteen in style, with much heavier twangy guitars, strong percussion and a very singable chorus. And it does end properly.

Ain’t No Good Goodbye is the pure bluesy rock n roll ballad stuff that you’d get from the likes of Fats Domino way back in the day. The chords do exactly what you want them to do, the brass is luscious and the piano just adds the icing on the cake.

The penultimate song, I’m So Miserable, carries the blues-y thing on, just with a bit more heft and a lot more deliberate cliché. What’s not to like?

To be honest, though, the final track on the album is probably my least favourite and it’s the title track too. Some Gave All is a bit too “modern country” for me, too poppy while trying to be a protest song. It just kills the mood of the rest of the album for me and I remember why I used to skip it back in the day.

So, yeah, that was a fun trip down memory lane for me in a lot of ways, not just with the actual songs off the album but the styles of the music and the memories of similar dance hall nights from long ago. You may not [will not - Ed] have the same reaction to it but I had fun. And now I need to find my cowboy boots again…

Image - Amazon

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