Randy Travis:   A Powerful Force And A Timely Saviour

Remember the mid-eighties when the traditional sound of country music was all but gone? It doesn't mean we didn't have great country music and great artists who were making their own contributions to a growing and ever-changing genre. The eighties proved to be the fertile ground for producing many of the legendary artists today. And after all the fifties sound was not exactly the same as the forties or the sixties and seventies the same as the fifties. However, the traditional element had begun to fade with the Urban Cowboy era when Hollywood cozied up to country music causing it to suddenly become "cool" and more acceptable to the general population and opening up an opportunity for an even newer sound best described as pop-country which inspired a well known television series called "pop goes country."

Then like a wake-up call, the country music community was aroused with a sound which had almost been forgotten. That sound was none other than the then newcomer Randy Travis breaking through the mainstream barriers like a fighter regaining composure just before the count of three with 1982. At least this is the way it was from a listener's point of view. Behind the scenes he had been paying his dues in the way of hard work and rejection. It was his dedication to his music(which was initially rejected by everyone) that kept him going.

Warner Bros. Records was the first to recognize the value of this entertainer. Following 1982, a re-release of On The Other Hand (which initially failed to make it past #67 on the charts) cemented his arrival. Randy Travis was now in a position to redeem the traditional country element which had greatly diminished as far as airplay with the exception of stations like WSM which has never wavered in their loyalty to traditional artists. Travis' mission proved consistent with Digging Up Bones and Forever And Ever Amen. Before the decade would end, he would be raking in major awards, selling albums in the millions and getting inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. He went on to turn his attention to films in the nineties but never dropped the ball when it came to his music.

Around The Bend set to be released July 15, 2008 may well qualify to be one of his crown jewels. Everything That I Own (Has Got a Dent) and Love is a Gamble(slightly remenicent of Point Of Light) are best described as classic Randy Travis. The title song, Around The Bend, doesn't veer far off from that sound either. Still remaining true to tradition, he reaches deep into the past and conjures up shades of Jimmie Davis with 'Til I'm Dead And Gone.

From mass rejection to beyond his wildest dreams in less than a decade Randy Travis single-handedly redeemed what some refer to as the soul of country music.



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