Billy Ray Cyrus’s debut was first issued in 1992, and more than 15 years later it still retains a couple of significant records such as being the top-ranking album by a country male performer, and (most notably) the best selling debut album from a male artist – more than 20,000,000 copies have been sold worldwide. Of course, it is the album that has “Achy Breaky Heart” – for my take on the song and the impact it had on Billy’s career I direct you to the general introduction I posted yesterday. Three more singles were drawn from “Some Gave All”, and they all did pretty well on the charts – “Could’ve Been Me” hit number 2, actually. The other two singles were “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” and “Wher’m I Gonna Live” (they charted at #6 and #23 respectively).
Before being signed up, the consensus was that Billy was too much of a rocker for Nashville and too much of a country performer for LA. Leaving aside the monster hit of the record, that is something which comes across when you listen to the album. The songs are either full-on country (the vast majority of compositions) or unbridled rock numbers. Personally, I feel these rock cuts are fantastic, and they are the ones that stick in my mind after listening to the CD. I am surprised that “Never Thought That I’d Fall In Love With You” was not issued as a single – Mercury probably though that issuing three harder-rocking compositions could be counterproductive. The fact is that the song has a great guitar part throughout, and a drum track that shifts from accompanying to leading in a snap, then reverts itself again. I like the song as much as the achy breaky one, and the fact it was never overplayed is just a big plus.
Now, I must admit that the ballads leave me cold. Billy co-wrote most of them. I don’t know if that was the problem or not – the “fast” numbers were all taken care of by hired hands, and (to draw a quick comparison) the ballads that were included in “It Won’t Be The Last” did work for me. And they were penned by professional songwriters.
Still, “Some Gave All” is the obvious highlight when it comes to songs whose tempo is moderate. It was an unsolicited hit, too (it hit #52), and it was the obvious standout composition co-written by Billy on the record. I can tell you something that is very indicative of the song’s quality: I live in a country that has seen no war for virtually two centuries, and the song still speaks very clearly to me. I can only imagine the impact it must have in the United States.
The album truly has its moments, then. But whenever I listen to it I get the feeling “This guy is just a one-trick pony”, and the truth couldn’t be further away from that, as he was to prove both shortly and through the years. His next records were to have a more uniform feel, and (from what I have listened so far) they are more enjoyable on the whole than this debut. It has a mammoth of a hit, and it has some great songs interspersed with some that (to me) are a bit monotonous. Billy could do better, and he was to do it within a year. But what a shame he was already painted into an artistic position he could never extricate himself from.
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