For the past few years, Cherry Red imprint Morello Records has been reissuing the Epic Records catalog of county legend Tammy Wynette on a series of twofers (or more). With its latest release, out now, Morello is taking a look at the late 1960s and early 1970s with a 2-CD set featuring the four albums The Ways To Love a Man, Tammy's Touch, My Elusive Dreams and Inspiration.
By the time she moved to Nashville in 1966, 23-year old Virginia Wynette Pugh had already experienced a lot of living. Raised by her grandparents after her father passed away when she was an infant, Pugh married her first husband a month before her high school graduation. She became a beautician, but always had musical aspirations which her husband did not share. Pugh left her husband before the birth of their third daughter. An appearance on an Alabama television station led to a short gig backing up Porter Wagoner on tour. Fueled by this, Pugh moved with her children to Nashville to pursue music. She eventually signed with Epic Records after auditioning for producer Billy Sherrill, who was having success with singer David Houston. Sherill suggested Pugh adopt a new stage name and Tammy Wynette was born.
The pair got to work immediately and Wynette's first single was released in October, 1966 with another following in February, 1967. Wynette's debut album, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad, was released just two months later in April. Her next project would be a collaboration with David Houston. Sherrill teamed up his two stars for the duet album, My Elusive Dreams. Wynette notched her first country No. 1 when the title track hit the top of the charts in June. The album would hit shelves in August, eventually peaking at No. 11 on the Country LPs chart. Another single, "It's All Over," would hit that same number on the Country singles survey.
Her first her solo country No. 1 single, the Sherrill/Glenn Sutton song "I Don't Wanna Play House," was released soon after and Wynette received the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal for her performance. In December, 1967, "Take Me To Your World" would become her third country chart-topper in a row. Her sophomore LP, Take Me To Your World/I Don't Wanna Play House, hit shelves in January, 1968. Wynette's career stayed on its upward trajectory with her third solo album, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, in July, 1968. Both the album and title song would hit No. 1 on the country charts. Then came Stand By Your Man in January, 1969 and Wynette had cemented her superstardom.
Tammy took a bit of a detour with her next album. Inspiration was a gospel/inspirational album. Produced as usual by Sherrill, it contained traditional gospel numbers and songs by more contemporary writers. These include "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep" by Irving Berlin, and "May The Good Lord Keep and Bless You" by Meredith Willson, among others. Released in March, 1969, the album had no singles released. Perhaps because of this and perhaps because of the change of direction, Inspiration didn't chart as well as Wynette's previous albums but still managed a respectable No. 19 on the Country survey.
Wynette returned to form with January, 1970's The Ways To Love a Man. A mixture of original tunes and covers, the title track by Sherill/Sutton/Wynette was the only single released, but that did not stop it from topping the country chart. Tammy also co-wrote two numbers, "I Know" and "These Two," with her new husband, George Jones. (The pair had wed in February, 1969 and became a powerhouse couple in the country music scene. They divorced in 1975 but never completely severed their ties from one another; their tumultuous relationship is currently being depicted in the Showtime miniseries George and Tammy starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon). The Ways To Love A Man peaked at No. 3 on the Country album chart.
Just four months later, Tammy's Touch was released. One single, "I'll See Him Through" by Billy Sherrill and Norro Wilson, had actually been released before The Ways To Love a Man and hit No. 2. Another Sherrill/Wilson co-write (with Carmol Taylor), "He Loved Me All the Way," returned Tammy again to the peak of the Country singles survey. It was her eighth time topping the chart, just four years after her debut. Tammy's Touch would also be her second album to top the Country albums chart. Surprisingly, it was her last solo album to accomplish that feat, but she would continue to rack up No. 1 singles through the middle of the 1970s.
This new reissue from Morello has been produced by Lee Simmonds. It includes an 8-page color booklet with a two-page essay by country music historian Tony Byworth. Remastering has been done by Alan Wilson at Western Star Studios.
If you would like to revisit this golden era of Tammy Wynette's career, we've got the full tracklisting and ordering links below.
- The Ways To Love A Man
- The Twelfth of Never
- I'll Share My World With You
- Enough of a Woman
- Singing My Song
- He'll Never Take the Place of You
- I Know
- Yearning (To Kiss You)
- These Two
- Where Could You Go (But To Her)
- Still Around
- I'll See Him Through
- Love Me, Love Me
- It's Just a Matter of Time
- Cold Lonely Feeling
- The Divorce Sale
- He Loves Me All the Way
- He Thinks I Love Him
- Our Last Night Together
- A Lighter Shade of Blue
- Lonely Days (And Nights More Lonely)
- You My Skies Turn Blue
Tracks 1-11 from The Ways To Love a Man, Epic Records LP BN 26519, 1970
Tracks 12-22 from Tammy's Touch, Epic Records LP BN 26549, 1970
- My Elusive Dreams
- I'll Take My Chances With You
- Hey Good Lookin'
- Set Me Free
- Together We Stand (Divided We Fall)
- Somethin' Stupid
- Back In Baby's Arms
- It's All Over
- Clinging Vine
- Marriage On The Rocks
- You'll Never Walk Alone
- Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep
- Just A Closer Walk With Thee
- I Believe
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- How Great Thou Art
- He's Got the Whole World In His Hands
- It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)
- Crying In the Chapel
- May The Good Lord Bless and Keep You
Tracks 1-10 from My Elusive Dreams, Epic Records LP BN 26325, 1967
Tracks 11-21 from Inspiration, Epic Records LP BN 26423, 1969