Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)

“I’m commericalminded. If I can’t get my own hit, I’m not too proud to hang on somebody else’s coattails,’ said Dolly in a revealing interview she conducted in the mid-90s. Therefore working with platinum king Kenny Rogers, who she called ‘a magical man’ was a no-brainer. Together they would have a pop smash with Islands in the Stream, a successful Christmas album released in 1984, and a country chart topper with the title track of this 1985 album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)

The appeal of Dolly Parton’s image has always been in how the ‘false’ make-up, wigs, gaudy outfits and cosmetic enhancements contrast with her country roots and the vulnerable truths in her music. ‘The Great Pretender’ is what she set out to be as a poor kid playing dress up, writing songs and hoping to become a star. By 1984 she’d successfully created her legendary persona and was a household name. Her musical output in the eighties was wildly inconsistent at best, with dwindling returns from the heady heights of 9 to 5. This album would prove to be a low of her recording career, filled with forgettable cover versions of songs from the fifties and sixties that offered little of what had got her here in the first place. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)

1983 was a year that brought Dolly more crossover chart success thanks to her duet Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers. Her 25th solo album released in the same year, Burlap and Satin, in comparison did not contain any real classic or memorable hit songs. The title is an acknowledgement that there will always be two contrasting aspects to her music – and how best to balance pop and country is something she is obviously still struggling to reconcile at this point. This album reached number 5 in the country charts, a disappointment for her, although it did result in a Grammy nomination. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Heartbreak Express (1982)

1981 was a significant year for Dolly – it was the first gap in her album release schedule since her debut in 1967. During some of those years she had released up to three albums a year, and such insane productivity had led her to country music superstardom, moderate pop success, opportunities in Hollywood but ultimately brought her to her knees. It is during this time in the early eighties she endured a crisis, with serious personal and health concerns that led her to contemplate suicide. Furthermore the difficulties of filming her movie ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ would prove that becoming a Hollywood star was not the stuff her dreams had been made of. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Heartbreak Express (1982)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

Despite never working a 9 To 5 job in her entire life, Dolly Parton understood the plight of working women and channeled that despair, hope and frustration into an anthem that still resonates today, long after the film of the same name has faded in the cultural consciousness. Her previous album, Dolly, Dolly, Dolly had been entirely written by others, so it was ironic (although not a surprise to anyone who understands her songwriting talent) that she would find the crossover hit she was looking for in her own pen after all. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (1980)

And so we’ve reached the eighties – the decade most traditional music fans like myself dread. During the seventies Dolly moved progressively towards pop and finished that decade by recording the most mainstream music of her career. At the beginning of 1980 Dolly Parton was 34 years old and still committed to becoming a worldwide superstar. Her decision to release another pop album dismayed the critics and many of her country music fans alike. And with good reason – Dolly, Dolly, Dolly doesn’t hold up that well to retrospective scrutiny, even if looking at the bigger picture we can conclude that Dolly’s plan for success worked. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (1980)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)

Released in 1979 Great Balls of Fire is right in the middle of Dolly’s mainstream pop phase. She aims for the charts but ironically it is one of the few albums from this era without any real classic career-defining songs. It’s a continuation of her previous run of big budget albums but with ever diminishing returns you feel she’s stretching this seventies pop style to its limits. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Great Balls of Fire (1979)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)

After the platinum crossover smash success of ‘Here You Come Again’, Dolly decided to stick closely to that pop formula for her follow up album ‘Heartbreaker’, released July 1978. She was now being managed by Sandy Gallin, introduced to her by Mac Davis, and he again teamed her up with pop producers Charles Koppleman and Gary Klein. Dolly also received a production credit, showing how she was taking back control of her own career in the wake of her split with Porter. Another fact worth noting is that 1978 was the first year since 1967 where Dolly only released one album. The insane songwriting productivity and release schedule of the Porter Wagoner years was well and truly over. In the end Dolly didn’t need more than one album since Heartbreaker dominated the country charts, staying at number one for nine consecutive weeks. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Heartbreaker (1978)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)

In the middle of the eternal debate about what defines the country music genre it’s interesting to consider some of these late seventies Dolly Parton albums. She aimed for the pop market but hoped to keep her country fanbase happy too. By 1977 Dolly was on her twentieth solo album in ten years. She’d written every style of country song you could think of. Pop music was limitless in a way that country music could never be – sonically and commercially. Dolly wanted the same success as Elvis or Elton John – not just an occasional cross over from the country charts. Jolene proved she could take country with her over to the mainstream and on Here You Come Again she again attempted to find a place in both worlds. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Here You Come Again (1977)”

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