While it took HEART LIKE A WHEEL to make Linda Ronstadt rock's first female superstar, DON'T CRY NOW was her first certified hit record. DON'T CRY NOW peaked at #45 on the charts and was certified Gold, which was a large improvement (in commercial terms) over her previous recordings. It was also her first record on David Geffen's Asylum label, though HEART LIKE A WHEEL, released the following year, was issued by Capitol Records. Ronstadt's style had changed noticeably over her previous two albums. The breathtaking-roots-country approach of SILK PURSE had been replaced by a smoother country sound on LINDA RONSTADT. With DON'T CRY NOW, most of the country influence is toned-down (the steel guitar is used frequently, but the fiddle appears only on "Silver Threads And Golden Needles"). In 1973, many reviewers commented that if Linda Ronstadt would become a pure country singer, she'd be the industry's best. The soft-rock sound of DON'T CRY NOW is magnificent, it reminds me somewhat of Carole KIng's TAPESTRY, but DON'T CRY NOW has a more forceful style. Its one of Linda Ronstadt's most richly emotional albums. J.D. Souther takes full production command on four of the album's songs (three of which are his own), working with John Boylan (who produced her 1972 album) on two and Peter Asher (who she'd work with from 1974 to the early 1990s) on another two. Boylan takes the helm solo on two additional tracks. Ronstadt cuts three of Souther's songs on this album, she had never recorded any of his tunes prior to DON'T CRY NOW, but he would remain a notable presence on her work through the 1970s. Souther's "I Can Almost See It" opens the record with a subtle harmonica introduction. The recording is remarkable, though the song didn't chart well. "Love Has No Pride" did. Linda Ronstadt delivers the definitive version, using her skills as music's finest torch singer to bring additional emotional resonance to the recording. "Love Has No Pride" was produced by John Boylan. The country warhorse "Silver Threads And Golden Needles" had already been featured on Ronstadt's solo debut HAND SOWN...HOME GROWN is all-stops out rock/country (I mean it literally) arrangement. The DON'T CRY NOW version is superior, the album's only pure-country recording, one of the two uptempo songs on the album, produced by Boylan and Souther. Herb Pedersen, who was indispensable in the alternative country scene of the 1970s contributes harmony vocals and acoustic guitar. Its one of my favorite Linda Ronstadt songs, either version, but I like this one just a little bit better. The Eagles had used "Desperado" as the thread for their sophomore album, an unsuccessul concept album of the same name. Their recording of the song is an Eagles classic. Ronstadt offers a soulful rendition far greater than the original, and hers succeeds without the western connections of surrounding songs Souther's finest composition on the album is the title track, which Ronstadt gives a powerful edge through her extraordinary voice and singing skills. Like "I Can Aklmost See It", "Don't Cry Now" was a brand new composition at the time of recording. Peter Asher would be at the helm of her rock records from HEART LIKE A WHEEL to CRY LIKE A RAINSTORM-HOWL LIKE THE WIND (I'm not sure who produced MAS CANCIONES and FRENESI, though I think it was Asher). He co-produces "Sail Away" and "I Believe In You" with J.D. Souther. Randy Newman's "Sail Way" is a brilliant composition, but Ronstadt has been criticized severley for her version of the song. Ronstadt delivers a soulful rendition with some gospel overtones, but the ironic humor of Newman's original is missing. So what. Ronstadt's performing energy makes this track a worthwhile listen. "Colorado" was one of the few notable tracks on the Flying Burrito Brothers first post-Gram Parsons album. Rick Roberts, who played a crucial role in the discovery of Emmylou Harris, composed the song; a gentle sorrow-filled tune, which is given an exceptional reading on DON'T CRY NOW, produced by Boylan. I've always felt that Souther's song "The Fast One" was somewhat of a missed opportunity; there are exceptional pieces to the song, but the verse/chorus and the bridge aren't well-matched. Ronstadt version of the song, however, is excellent. William Bell had made a classic out of "Everybody Loves A Winner" and Ronstadt offers a marvelous rendition of the song. Boylan and Souther produced this song which features a horn arrangement. Neil Young's exceptional "I Believe In You" is the album's best song, and the best album closer in Linda Ronstadt's catalog. Ronstadt's vocal is filled with emotion as it rings out among the marveous string arrangement and breathtaking chorus. This is the definitive recording. It took me a while to enjoy DON'T CRY NOW, mainly because of the lack of uptempo material, but after I listened to it a couple times I think of it as an essentiaal. Not to mention a crucial step in Linda Ronstadt's path to superstardom.