As one of the biggest country music stars of the 1970s and 1980s, Ronnie Milsap has had many compilations devoted to his career. Recently, Cherry Red imprint Morello records released a 2-CD set featuring four of Milsap’s albums from 1977 to 1980: It Was Almost Like A Song, Only One Love In My Life, Images and Milsap Magic. It was during this period when Milsap began to experience his greatest successes as a crossover artist.
By the time of 1977’s It Was Almost Like A Song, Ronnie Milsap had already garnered 7 Billboard Country No. 1s. The singer and pianist, almost completely blind from birth, had signed with RCA in 1973 and gotten his first number with “Pure Love” in 1974 off of the album of the same name. Despite all of his country chart success, Milsap had only been able to reach the lower portions of the portions of the pop charts. That all changed with his sixth RCA studio album and “It Was Almost Like A Song.” The piano ballad, written by Archie Jordan and Hal David, would hit No. 1 on the Country chart, but also make it to No. 16 on the Pop chart and No. 7 on the AC chart, Milsap’s first placement on there. The other hit from the album was also written by Archie Jordan (solo this time). “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life” would place at the top of the Country charts and go to No. 19 on the AC survey. Amy Grant also had a hit with the song that same year on the Christian charts. The gold-certified It Was Almost Like A Song would peak at No. 3 on the Country albums chart. Milsap was also named “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Entertainer of the Year” by the Country Music Association in 1977.
The success continued for 1978’s Only One Love In My Life which repeated the previous album’s placement at No. 3 on the Country Albums chart. Three singles would be released from the LP. Charles Quillen and Conrad Pierce’s “Back on My Mind Again” would go to No. 2 on the Country charts while its B-side “Santa Barbara (once again by Archie Jordan and Hal David) would also chart at No. 2. The first song released as a single was the title track, written by R.C. Bannon and John Bettis. It would top the Country charts, as would the next single, “Let’s Take the Long Way Around the World” (by Archie Jordan and Naomi Martin). Both cuts also hit the AC charts.
1979’s Images was Milsap’s last album of the decade. The first single, Bob McDill and Wayne Holyfield’s “Nobody Likes Sad Songs,” would give the singer his twelfth Country chart-topper. Richard Leigh was joined by the perennial Archie Jordan for the second single of the album, “In No Time At All.” It did not fare quite as well, only peaking at #6 on the Country survey. The single’s flipside showed Milsap’s musical diversity. Tom Brasfield’s “Get It Up” found the artist dipping his toes into the disco arena. He was rewarded when the song hit the pop and dance charts.
The dawning of the 1980s brought a little bit of change for Ronnie Milsap. He had co-produced the previous three albums with Tom Collins. For 1980’s Milsap Magic, he teamed with Rob Galbraith instead. While many of the songwriters were the same, Milsap also branched out by covering Barry Manilow’s “I Let Myself Believe.” (Milsap and Manilow would later duet on “Put a Quarter in the Jukebox.”) But these changes did not stop the hits as the album produced another pair of country chart-toppers. Bob McDill’s “Why Don’t You Spend the Night” and “My Heart” by Don Pfrimmer and Charles Quillen would both hit that peak. Both B-sides, “Silent Night (After the Fight)” by John Schweers and Jerry Reed’s “Misery Loves Company” also charted.
Milsap would have his first No. 1 AC hit (and another Country No. 1) with “Smoky Mountain Rain” off of his Greatest Hits album later that year. He would stay on RCA through 1991’s Back To the Grindstone, notching another 20 Country No. 1 hits over that span (and another AC No. 1 with his 1982 cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Any Day Now”). Milsap first moved to Liberty and then Capitol before going to a variety of labels. He even returned to RCA for 2006’s My Life. His last album was 2016’s Gospel Greats on Black River Entertainment. He received the Academy of Country Music’s Pioneer award in 2002 and was inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
Morello’s new 2-CD set is mastered by Alan Wilson at Western Star Studios. Produced by Lee Simmonds, the compilation includes an 8-page full-color booklet featuring a 2-page essay by country music historian Tony Byworth. This release marks the only appearance of Only One Love In My Life, Images and Milsap Magic on CD outside of Sony Legacy’s 2014 boxset The RCA Albums Collection.
If you would like to give this title a try, we’ve got the full tracklisting and ordering links below!
- What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life
- No One Will Ever Know
- It Was Almost Like A Song
- Long Distance Memory
- Here In Love
- The Future’s Not What It Used To Be
- It Don’t Hurt To Dream
- Crystal Fallin’ Rain
- The Lovin’ Kind
- Let’s Take the Long Way Around The World
- Back On My Mind Again
- Only One Love In My Life
- I’m Not Trying To Forget
- No Relief in Sight
- Once I Get Over You
- Santa Barbara
- Too Soon To Know
- Yesterday’s Lovers Never Make Good Friends
- I’ve Got the Music In Me
- Nobody Likes Sad Songs
- Keep the Night Away
- I Really Don’t Want To Know
- Just Because It Feels Good
- You Don’t Look For Love
- Hi-Heel Sneakers
- In No Time At All
- Delta Queen
- All Good Things Don’t Have To End
- Get It Up
- Why Don’t You Spend The Night
- She Thinks I Still Care
- My Heart
- Silent Night (After the Fight)
- It’s A Beautiful Thing
- Misery Loves Company
- I Let Myself Believe
- If You Don’t Want Me To
- What’s One More Time
- Still In Love With You
CD 1, Tracks 1-10 from It Was Almost Like A Song, RCA Victor LP AHL1-2439, 1977
CD 1, Tracks 11-20 from Only One Love In My Life, RCA Victor LP AFL1-2780, 1978
CD 2, Tracks 1-10 from Images, RCA Victor LP AHL1-3346, 1979
CD 2, Tracks 11-20 from Milsap Magic, RCA Victor LP AHL1-3563, 1980