Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Real Love" by Dolly Parton with Kenny Rogers

Song#:  2352
Date:  06/08/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  91
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Country Crossover

Pop Bits:  Parton's last studio album, 1984's The Great Pretender, was directly aimed at a pop audience and the results were not very good. The album failed to produce a significant hit with only a remake of "Save the Last Dance for Me" doing much of anything (#3 Country/#45 Pop). For her next LP, Real Love, Parton distanced herself from the synthpop sheen of Pretender and went for a more general pop/country crossover sound. The album's first single, "Don't Call It Love," got her into the Top 10 at Country (#3) and #12 at AC, but it failed to make the Pop chart. This next single, Parton and Rogers' first non-holiday pairing since their 1983 mega hit "Islands in the Stream," made it to the top of the Country chart and #13 AC. Once again, it was virtually ignored at Pop and was only able to register three short weeks at the bottom of the chart. It would end up being Parton's last single to reach the Pop chart in the 80s. The album would contain one more Country #1 ("Think About Love"), but the lack of Pop hits and gold albums didn't sit quite well with Parton's label, RCA, who after an eighteen year relationship decided to not renew her contract. She would sign on with Columbia, go back to her country roots, and eventually record one gold and two platinum albums for them.

ReduxReview:  Well, this certainly isn't "Islands in the Stream," but then this didn't have the Bee Gees pedigree behind it. While it did involve quality folks in the writing and producing, I just found the song dull. Where sparks flew between Parton and Rogers on "Island," there is barely even a puff of smoke here. It was bland 80s pop that wasn't going to set the chart afire. I remember buying this album before hearing any of it and I was really disappointed. I lost interest in Parton's music for a long while. She did get her mojo back with 1989's White Limozeen, but I jumped back on board her bandwagon a decade later when she released a brilliant trio of bluegrass/roots albums that began with 1999's The Grass Is Blue.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The LP's first single, "Don't Call It Love," was a cover of a song originally recorded by Kim Carnes. Written by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, it was included on Carnes' 1981 #1 album Mistaken Identity, however it was not released as a single. The following year, both Dusty Springfield and the Captain & Tennille did versions of the song. Neither artist pushed the song out as a single. Parton later picked up the tune and turned it into a Country hit.


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