Country music superstar Ronnie Milsap is having a great year. The Academy of Country Music has recognized him with a Career Achievement Award at the ACM Honors ceremony in Nashville, and in October, the “It Was Almost Like a Song” and “Any Day Now” singer will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame's 2014 class, alongside Mac Wiseman and the late Hank Cochran. Capping this incredible year of acclaim, however, will be the November 4 release from RCA Records and Legacy Recordings of The RCA Albums Collection. This 21-CD box set compiles all of Milsap’s studio and live sets released by RCA between 1973 and 2006. Many of these titles have been long unavailable, while others have never previously seen CD release at all.
The box set contains the following original albums:
- Where My Heart Is (1973)
- Pure Love (1974)
- A Legend In My Time (1975)
- Night Things (1975)
- 20/20 Vision (1976)
- Ronnie Milsap Live (1976)
- It Was Almost Like A Song (1977)
- Only One Love In My Life (1978)
- Images (1979)
- Milsap Magic (1980)
- Out Where The Bright Lights Are Glowing (1981)
- There’s No Gettin’ Over Me (1981)
- Inside (1982)
- Keyed Up (1983)
- One More Try For Love (1984)
- Lost In The Fifties Tonight (1985)
- Christmas With Ronnie Milsap (1986)
- Heart & Soul (1987)
- Stranger Things Have Happened (1989)
- Back To The Grindstone (1991)
- My Life (2006)
After the jump, we’ll take a deeper look at the contents of the box set and Ronnie Milsap’s career!
Milsap’s 1973 RCA debut Where My Heart Is, the first disc in the box, might have given the impression that the North Carolina-born vocalist was an overnight sensation. It reached a peak of No. 5 on the Billboard C&W Albums chart, and two tracks, "I Hate You" and "(All Together Now) Let's Fall Apart," both reached the top ten of the country chart. A third song lifted from the LP, "That Girl Who Waits on Tables,” did almost as well with a No. 11 peak position. But Milsap had been making music professionally for a decade. Almost completely blind from birth, the singer-pianist overcame adversities to release his first single in 1963. He signed with New York’s Scepter Records, home of Dionne Warwick and B.J. Thomas, in 1965, as an R&B vocalist. He recorded Nick Ashford and Valarie Simpson’s “Let’s Go Get Stoned” before Ray Charles, and scored a Top 20 R&B hit with another Ashford and Simpson tune, “Never Had It So Good.” While tending to his budding solo career, Milsap also worked sessions, playing piano on Elvis Presley’s “Kentucky Rain” and contributing to other recordings by The King. Milsap was signed to Warner Bros. for a single LP in 1971, but his breakthrough came two years later when he signed with RCA.
Ronnie Milsap remained at RCA through 1991. His success record there was enviable. Each Milsap single through 1992 hit the Top 15 on the Billboard Country Singles chart save two, the aforementioned "That Girl Who Waits On Tables" and 1992's "All Is Fair In Love and War" which also reached No. 11. When all was said and done, Milsap notched 49 Top 10 Country singles with 35 reaching No. 1 including Hal David and Archie Jordan’s “It Was Almost Like a Song” in 1977. Somewhat ironically, Milsap also had a No. 1 with a song by David’s old partner, Burt Bacharach, when “Any Day Now” – written by Bacharach and Bob Hilliard and previously covered by Presley – hit the summit in 1982.
His success wasn’t confined to singles, either. Sixteen of the 21 albums included on The RCA Albums Collection hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. (Milsap also earned two more No. 1s on the chart with his 1980 and 1985 greatest-hits sets, not included here.) Four of the albums - A Legend In My Time (1975), Ronnie Milsap Live (1977), It Was Almost Like A Song (1978), and Lost in the Fifties Tonight (1986) - won the Country Music Association prize for Album of the Year. Milsap also picked up six Grammy Awards, five for Best Male Country Music Performance.
The final disc in the box set, 2006's My Life, reunited the Grand Ole Opry member with his longtime label after stints with Liberty, Capitol, Star Song, Image, Bigger Picture, and RCA sister label Legacy Recordings. During that period, he also ventured out of the realm of country, touching on other styles such as gospel and even jazz/popular standards. Milsap’s most recent album, 2014’s Summer Number Seventeen on Legacy, revisited the classic pop and R&B songs of his youth. The RCA Albums Collection will include LP replica jackets for each title, plus liner notes from Peter Cooper and expanded notes about each included album. All albums are presented in their original album sequences, with no bonus material added.
Milsap states in the official press release, “The idea that all the music I made for RCA will be available in one place thrills me. It is my life's work. These songs, and the records I made are a big piece of who I am -- and the people who loved them. I feel honored to know The RCA Collection is coming." You can pre-order the box set, due from RCA Records and Legacy Recordings on November 4, at the links below! The complete list of included albums can be found above!