Cherry Red’s Morello imprint has been reissuing the discographies of country artists for years, and the label has recently taken a look at the beginning of country superstar Tanya Tucker’s career. The new 2-CD compilation collects all of the singer’s four original 1970s studio albums for Columbia as she began her ascendancy to country royalty: Delta Dawn, What’s Your Mama’s Name, Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone) and You Are So Beautiful.
Tucker’s debut recording on Columbia was released when she was just thirteen in 1972. But she got started in music even earlier. At age eight, Tanya determined that she wanted to be a singer and her family aided in her efforts. An appearance onstage with Mel Tillis onstage at the Arizona State Fair in the late 1960s came before the family moved just outside of Las Vegas to let Tucker pursue her dream. She began to perform and record demo tapes which caught the attention of songwriter Dolores Fuller who passed them on to Billy Sherrill, the head of A&R at Columbia Records in Nashville. Impressed, he signed the teenage singer.
Tucker began to record immediately and Sherrill wanted her first single to be Donna Fargo’s “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.” But Tanya had another choice: “Delta Dawn,” a Larry Collins/Alex Harvey tune she had heard Bette Midler perform on The Tonight Show. Her instincts were correct. Released in May 1972, the song would peak at No. 6 on the Country charts and launch Tucker’s career. (Helen Reddy would have even greater success the next year with “Delta Dawn,” taking it to No. 1 on the Pop charts. Alas, Midler’s studio version was released two days after Reddy’s; the delay being due to the long gestation of her Divine Miss M album.)
Tucker’s follow-up single was Emily Mitchell and Norro Wilson’s “Love’s The Answer,” released in September of 1972. It hit No. 5 Country and went to No. 1 on the Canadian Country charts. Its B-side, “Jamestown Ferry,” also peaked at No. 5. All three songs were included on Tanya’s debut album Delta Dawn, released in October, which climbed to No. 32 on the Country survey. At first, Sherrill was reluctant to reveal Tucker’s true age but word eventually leaked. She became an even bigger sensation perhaps due to the juxtaposition of her youth against her mature vocals and the content of her songs.
Tucker would get her first Country chart-topper just a few months later in February, 1973 with the Dallas Frazier/Earl Montgomery song “What’s Your Mama’s Name.” It also hit the Pop charts. That song gave her second album its name when it was released in April, peaking at No. 4. The song line-up also included Curly Putnam’s “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” which awarded Tanya her second consecutive Country No. 1 in July.
Keeping up a fast pace of recording, Tucker would get another No. 1 hit with her next single “Would You Lay Me Down (In A Field of Stone),” written by David Allan Coe. It was released on New Year’s Eve of 1973 and hit the peak position in March 1974. The song was also her highest charting Pop entry to date, climbing to No. 46. Continuing a pattern, that hit also gave the name to Tucker’s third album which matched the performance of her previous LP, peaking at No. 4. Two further singles were released: the No. 4 Country hit “The Man That Turned My Mama On” by Ed Bruce and Bobby Braddock’s “I Believe The South is Gonna Rise Again” which went to No. 18.
And then, suddenly, Tucker’s tenure on Columbia was over. MCA lured her away with a million-dollar contract. Her first single for them, “Lizzie and the Rainman,” was released in April, 1975 and was a chart-topper. But Columbia still had material in the vaults and premiered a single of John Tipton’s “Spring” to compete with MCA’s single. A measure of Tucker’s popularity, it peaked at No. 18. The label would wait two years to release a full album of unused material. You Are So Beautiful debuted in June, 1977, four months after Tucker’s fourth MCA album release, Ridin’ Rainbows. Columbia’s gambit did not pay off this time: the album only hit No. 44 on the Country chart, Tucker’s lowest placement to that point. A single of the Billy Preston/Bruce Fisher title tune was also released at the time, placing at No. 40.
With that, Tucker’s association with Columbia was truly over. She would stay on MCA through 1981 before moving to Arista for a one-off rock album in 1982. Tucker had begun to hit the tabloids for several personal problems including a tumultuous romance with Glen Campbell in the early 1980s. Her next label was Capitol Nashville, beginning in 1986 and lasting through 2002 (with a short stint at Liberty Records in the middle). Tucker’s last solo studio album was 2009’s My Turn on Saguaro Road. She was awarded the Academy of Country Music’s Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award in 2016.
Morello’s new package presents Tucker’s four Columbia albums across 2 CDs. It features an 8-page color booklet with two pages of notes by historian Tony Byworth. The reissue has been produced by Lee Simmonds and mastered by Alan Wilson at Western Star Studios. This compilation also marks the CD debut of You Are So Beautiful and the first time all of Tucker’s original Columbia studio albums have been collected together.
If you would like to revisit the beginning of Tanya Tucker’s career and her tenure at Columbia, we’ve got the full tracklisting and ordering links below.
- Delta Dawn
- New York City Song
- Smell The Flowers
- If You Touch Me (You’ve Got To Love Me)
- He’s All I Got
- The Jamestown Ferry
- Loving You Could Never Be Better
- Soul Song
- Love’s The Answer
- The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A.
- I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
- What’s Your Mama’s Name
- Horseshoe Bend
- The Chokin’ Kind
- California Cotton Fields
- Teddy Bear Song
- Blood Red and Goin’ Down
- Song Man
- The Missing Piece of Puzzle
- Rainy Girl
- Pass Me By
- Teach Me The Words To Your Song
- Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)
- How Can I Tell Him
- Let Me Be There
- Bed of Roses
- The Man That Turned My Mama On
- I Believe The South Is Gonna Rise Again
- Old Dan Tucker’s Daughter
- No Man’s Land
- Why Me Lord
- The Baptism of Jesse Taylor
- What If We Were Running Out of Love
- You Are So Beautiful
- The Best Of My Love
- There Is A Place
- Can I Be Your Lady?
- Loving Arms
- You Know Just What I’d Do
- Almost Persuaded
- Guess I’ll Have To Love Him More
- I Still Sing The Old Songs
CD 1, Tracks 1-11 from Delta Dawn, Columbia LP KC 31742, 1972
CD 1, Tracks 12-22 from What’s Your Mama’s Name, Columbia LP KC 32272, 1973
CD 2, Tracks 1-11 from Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone), Columbia LP KC 32744, 1974
CD 2, Tracks 12-21 from You Are So Beautiful, Columbia LP PC 34733, 1977