In 1979, Alabama – a group based in Fort Payne, Alabama – enjoyed their first taste of Top-40 action on the Country charts with “I Wanna Come Over,” a song that served as fitting national introduction to the band, with its’ rich melody and pristine harmonies. As it turned out, the band would revolutionize the way that bands were perceived in the format, setting the record for most consecutive number one hits in chart history – and also induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Any discussion of essential songs from Randy Owen, Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, and Mark Herndon had to include at least a few of their romantic numbers, but also some of their early efforts that merged country and rock sounds with a Southern slant. Here are ten that are still likely going to be played wherever the music – and the drink – is flowing!
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10. Alabama – “The Cheap Seats”
Perhaps one of the biggest departures for the band was this 1994 hit from the pen of Marcus Hummon and Randy Sharp. This Alabama song paid tribute to America’s pastime, with the video focusing on a minor-league ball game. Interestingly enough, the song was a hit the year of the unfortunate MLB strike, so for many major-league fans, this was as close as they would get to real action that year.
9. Alabama – “Dancin, Shaggin On The Boulevard”
You know that business saying about “To know where you are, you have to know where you begin?” Well, Alabama lived up to that cred in 1998 with this song that definitely could be called a “throwback,” with their days playing at the legendary Bowery on the pier at Myrtle Beach influencing this harmony-laden song, which became one of their final major hits.
8. Alabama – “My Home’s In Alabama”
Owen and Gentry penned this biographical song, which proved to be their ticket to the big leagues upon its’ release in 1980. The song only made it to No. 17, but led the band to having their MDJ contract being bought out by RCA, and the rest was history. Still, one of the most stirring songs of their recorded catalog, and their live show.
6. Alabama – “The Closer You Get”
Alabama’s early work was so much a diverse mix of mountain harmonies balanced by a Rock and Roll sensibility. This was perhaps the best of that particular sound, a number one Country hit in 1983, but also a Top-40 hit on the Hot 100. A hook-laden chorus, with airtight harmonies. A perfect example of the Alabama sound.
5. Alabama – “Jukebox In My Mind”
In the 1990s, the music of Alabama definitely included a more traditional sound, and at the heart of that era was this beautiful number, which spent a month at the top of the charts in the fall of 1990 – marking their only song to spend four weeks there.
4. Alabama – “When We Make Love”
In the 1980s, there were two male vocalists who could turn female hearts aflutter with each ballad they released. One was Conway Twitty, and the other was Randy Owen. Of all Alabama songs, this one definitely qualified as their most sensual, helping to push their Roll On album to sell over four million units.
3. Alabama – “She and I”
Dave Loggins contributed this hit to the Alabama song catalog, which was one of their more contemporary arrangements. It was a new song when it was released as the single from their 1986 Greatest Hitsdisc – at a time where putting a new song on a compilation album was still a novel approach. The closest the band came to conjuring up the sound of The Beatles, the harmonies helped to make this one a career record.
2. Alabama – “Feels So Right”
Randy Owen’s lyrics were deemed a little suggestive at the time of the release of this song in the summer months of 1981. The lyrics definitely got people talking in a variety of formats, with peaks of # 9 and # 20 on the AC and Hot 100, respectively. Conway Twitty – known for more than his share of controversial classics – likely nodded his head in agreement on this tune, but there was another Alabama song that he had his eye on.
1. Alabama – “Lady Down On Love”
The group had released two singles from The Closer You Get, when Owen’s phone rang at his house on Lookout Mountain. The caller was Conway Twitty, who asked him what the band had planned do with a track off the disc that Owen had written called “Lady Down On Love.” Owen – who wrote the song years earlier with Johnny Rodriguez in mind – told Twitty that RCA did indeed have plans to make the tune a single. Though he lost a chance to have a Conway cut, Owen and the band turned in what was one of the most emotional performances, all about a woman who is single but not really ready to mingle.