Since 2015, Cherry Red imprint Morello Records has been exploring the Epic catalog of country legend Tammy Wynette, releasing nine collections spanning 19 albums for the label. They have just released a new entry in the series, a 2-CD set featuring the albums Only Lonely Sometimes, Soft Touch, Good Love & Heartbreak and Even the Strong Get Lonely which saw Wynette enter the 1980s.
The latter half of the 1970s were a turbulent time personally for Tammy Wynette. She divorced George Jones in 1975, married and divorced real-estate developer Michael Tomlin in 1976, and married singer-songwriter George Richey in 1978. He would also become a controversial figure in her life as he became her manager and eventual producer. Amidst all of this, Wynette battled medical ailments and addiction. Despite these well-publicized struggles, she continued to record steadily although her chart fortunes had waned a bit since the stratospheric highs of a decade earlier.
The four albums on this set represent a turning point in Wynette’s recording career with Epic. The first album, Only Lonely Sometimes, was released in June 1980 and marked her final solo album produced by the esteemed Billy Sherrill. He had helmed all of her recordings since her signing at Epic, but as a new decade dawned, a change of direction was sought after this album. (Sherrill would produce one more album for Wynette – a duet album with ex-husband George Jones – also released in 1980). On Only Lonely, Tammy covers Waylon Jennings (“Come With Me”) and Anne Murray (“You Needed Me”). Two singles would be issued from the album, both peaking at No. 17 on the country charts, Sue Richards’ “He Was There (When I Needed You)” and Bob McDill’s “Starting Over.” Only Lonely Sometimes would climb to No. 37 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.
For her next album, famed producer Chips Moman was brought in to work with Wynette. You Brought Me Back (not included on this compilation) failed to make the country album charts. Tammy was more in the public spotlight that year for the TV movie Stand By Your Man, based on her autobiography, where Annette O’Toole portrayed the singer. George Richey then took over as Wynette’s record producer with her next album, Soft Touch, released in May 1982. Here, Tammy’s songs included a duet with her daughter Tina Byrd Jones on “What’s It Like To Be A Woman.” Two singles were released. A.L. Owens and Bill Shore’s “You Still Get To Me In My Dreams” reached No. 16 on the Country chart and Robert Dawdry, Jerry Taylor, and Dennis Knutson’s “Another Chance” rose to No. 8. It was her highest country single since 1979. The album itself hit No. 31 on the Country Albums chart.
Six months later, in November, 1982, Good Love & Heartbreak hit store shelves. Unfortunately, this second Richey-produced effort did not meet the success of the earlier album. The first single, Chester Lester and Tim Dubois’ “A Good Night’s Love” hit No. 16, while Richey, Wynette and Jerry Taylor’s “I Just Heard a Heart Break (And I’m So Afraid It’s Mine)” stalled at No. 46. The album fared even worse, going only to No. 62.
Even the Strong Get Lonely, from June 1983 would suffer a similar chart fate. For this album, Wynette tackled strong material from John Prine (“Unwed Fathers” – co-written with Bobby Braddock) and Mickey Newbury (“Darlin’ Take Care of Yourself”) while co-writing a song with pop hitmaker Tommy Boyce (“A Slightly Used Woman” – also with Melvin Powers). “Unwed Fathers” was released as a single, but only got to No. 63 on the Country survey, a performance matched by the album’s other single, Michael Garvin and Bucky Jones’ “Still In the Ring.” Even the Strong Get Lonely would peak at No. 66. It proved to be Richey’s final time helming any of Wynette’s albums at Epic. Steve Buckingham was brought in for 1985’s Sometimes When We Touch (previously collected on a Morello compilation) and Wynette’s version of the title song became her biggest country hit since 1978.
This 2-CD set from Morello has been produced by Lee Simmonds. It includes an eight-page color booklet with a two page essay by country music historian Tony Byworth, matching the other entries in the series. Remastering has been done by Alan Wilson at Western Star Studios. If you would like to explore this transitional time in Tammy Wynette’s Epic discography, we’ve got the full tracklisting and Amazon links below.
- He Was There (When I Needed You)
- I’ll Be Thinking of You
- You Never Knew
- Come With Me
- You Needed Me
- Starting Over
- Out of the Spotlight
- Only The Names Have Changed
- When You Love Me
- Ozark Mountain Lullaby
- Old Reliable
- She Can’t Take My Love Off The Red
- Being Gone
- What’s It Like To Be A Woman
- I’ll Still Be Loving You This Much
- Another Chance
- If I Didn’t Have A Heart
- You Still Get To Me In My Dreams
- Sometimes I’m A Little Girl
- Dancing Your Memory Away
- A Good Night’s Love
- I Still Dream About You
- Back To the Wall
- Half the Heart
- It’s The Goodbye That Blows Me Away
- I Just Heard a Heart Break (And I’m So Afraid It’s Mine)
- Somebody Hold Me Until He Passes By
- I’m Going On With Everything Gone
- I’ve Come Back (To Say I Love You One More Time)
- Unwed Fathers
- I’m So Afraid That I’d Live Through It
- A Slightly Used Woman
- Only the Strong Survive
- With a Friend Like You (Who Needs a Lover)
- Still In the Ring
- Midnight Love
- Love Overdue
- Darlin’ Take Care of Yourself
- Even the Strong Get Lonely Sometimes
Disc 1, Tracks 1-10 from Only Lonely Sometimes, Epic LP JE 36485, 1980
Disc 1, Tracks 11-20 from Soft Touch, Epic LP EPC 85727, 1982
Disc 2, Tracks 1-10 from Good Love & Heartbreak, Epic LP FE 38372, 1982
Disc 2, Tracks 11-20 from Even the Strong Get Lonely, Epic LP 38744, 1983