Back in March, each of us set out to pick 100 of our favorite albums. The intention was simply to focus on personal favorites rather than trying to pick a list of the 100 greatest albums of all-time.
When we got done with those lists, we compared our choices, and 12 of our picks were the same. So we decided to rank those 12 picks in order and present them in descending order from No. 12 to No. 1. Today we present No. 3.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
ALBUM OF THE DAY
When Fallen Angels Fly (1994)
"You Don't Even Know Who I Am," "I Try to Think About Elvis" "Here I Am" and "Over My Shoulder"
I've made no secret of my love for 1990s country music on this countdown. And this album by the supremely gifted Pikeville, Kentucky, native ranks as one of the best of that — or any — decade. After enjoying tremendous success as an artist for eight years, Loveless dropped this phenomenal effort to follow up a greatest hits collection. From the first notes of opener "A Handful of Dust" to the last ones of the gorgeous closer, "Over My Shoulder," Loveless delivers a perfect album that is a master class in choosing the right songs from different songwriters and perfectly sequencing them. Produced by the legendary Emory Gordy, Jr., Loveless mixes serious songs about the perils and rewards of relationships, along with a few fun tracks to give the album a strong emotional balance. But every song is steeped in authenticity, coming across as if Loveless had penned them all herself. Being able to pull that off is a gift that only the greatest artists possess. Patty Loveless certainly falls into that category.
This is the second album by a female country artist released in the mid-'90s to make the consensus picks of our countdown, and both of them finished in the Top 5 after we ranked them.
That's a nod, of course, to our college years as much of this music has been. It was a rich era for country music, and I don't even think we realized how good we had it. Compared to the schlock coming out of Nashville these days, it's no surprise that we have to reach back to the '90s to find picks like this album from Patty Loveless. It's rare to find an album this good coming out of Nashville's music factories these days, and this one even picked up a trophy for CMA Album of the Year. Loveless could sing a wide range of styles from up-tempo country rockers to soul-stirring ballads to bluegrass and gospel. On the up-tempo numbers, she presents as a more countrified version of Linda Ronstadt, but it was on those ballads where she really soared and created her own identity with a classic teardrop break in her voice. Several of her best ballads are featured here including two Top 10 hits in "You Don't Even Know Who I Am" and "Here I Am."
BONUS ALBUM OF THE DAY
Come On Over (1997)
Why I Love It
Before there was Taylor Swift, there was Shania Twain.
Twain took country music by storm in 1995 with her second album The Woman In Me which sold four million copies and set the table for her follow-up. But nobody could have known at the time what was coming. Come On Over would eventually sell more than 17 million copies in the United States on its way to becoming the best-selling country album of all time.
It eventually produced 10 Top 40 hits in country music with eight of those reaching the Top 10. But in reality, with more than 40 million units sold worldwide, this album represents one of those pop culture moments when suddenly Shania Twain, for a brief moment, was the world's biggest superstar. It didn't last long, but this album is a virtual greatest hits collection all on its own representing some of the best pop music of the late '90s.
"Love Gets Me Every Time," "(Don't Be Stupid) You Know I Love You" and "You're Still The One"