Alabama has gone down in history as the most successful group in the history of country music. That is, in a scene that has traditionally been dominated by single performers they did give collectives a definitive chance to push the boundaries of the genre, and the way it has always been perceived.
I was overjoyed to find this compilation when I traveled to Argentina to attend an Elton John gig during The Rocket Tour, if only because not a single disc by them is available where I live. You might think that is strange, but what would you say if I told you that there are no albums by Garth Brooks either here? The ones I have are all imports. That reminds me I live in the opposite end of the world, but it makes me place a high value on these albums that I import, while it also makes me do my homework and figure out which ones could be sound purchases. Coming back to this compilation, when I bought it I knew I was only getting a part of the story that (while compelling) is not necessarily the defining one. Any compilation that hasn’t got “Mountain Music”, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Dixieland Delight” (their calling card in South America) is incomplete by definition. It’s like watching Star Wars and omitting the part when Darth Vader reveals he is Luke’s father. In a sense it doesn’t matter because everybody and his wife know that by now. With this compilation, it is the same – everybody knows these compositions I have mentioned by heart. Every single person who is into country music is more than familiarized with them.
Of course, it might be a bit hard to recommend this over the masterful “For The Record” compilation. Released in 1998, that is a defining package, including the best songs found here and the ones that are conspicuous by their absence. Still, “In The Mood: The Love Songs” is an album that presents the band in a favorable light. Songs like “The Closer You Get” and “Feels So Good” do not just showed the way for the genre to go – they were the way to go. Plus, compositions like “Here We Are”, “Touch Me When We’re Dancing”, “Love In The First Degree” and “Lady Low On Love” are major statements on life and love and the thread that unites them.
The mainstream incorporation of country music in South America took place in the 80s – artists like John Denver and Eddie Rabbitt hit very hard back then. But those who were there remember Alabama most of all. Personally, I think that any band that could instill so much respect and appreciation for a genre that is so markedly different from the music that is played in this continent transcends the status of band – its members become true ambassadors. And I can tell all of you in the United States that Alabama did really speak to people here, and they created a cultural bridge that still stands proud and strong after all these years. From the day they began being played in South America, these have been living years from the genre in the continent. If you can find “For The Record” go for it. If not, “In The Mood: The Love Songs” is “close enough to perfect” in many senses, and it will give you the necessary drive to move further into their catalog.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes (but go for “For The Record” if you can)
Do I feel like digging deeper into their catalog after listening to it: Yes