I was just a kid when Crystal Gayle was at the height of her commercial peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I used to spend most of my (meager by today's standards) allowance on cassettes of my favorite country artists. Crystal was among them, but because my budget was extremely limited in those days, I had to make my choices judiciously and usually opted for "Best Of" or "Greatest Hits" releases. Therefore, it wasn't until I was older and working that I was able to enjoy any of her studio albums, and by then much of her earlier work was out of print.
In 1983 I signed up for the Columbia House Record and Tape Club's (this was in the pre-CD days) 15 LPs or cassettes for a penny deal. Of course the catch was that one was then obligated to buy three or four more albums at regular club prices over the subsequent three or four years. One of the cassettes I selected was "True Love" which was the current Crystal Gayle album at the time. I played that tape almost to death in my Sony Walkman for the next 10 days or so until my mother found out what I had done and made me send all the tapes back.
Little did I know then that more than 25 years would pass before I would get to hear that album again -- aside from the three smash hits "Till I Gain Control Again", "Our Love Is On The Faultine" and "Baby, What About You" , which all got significant radio airplay and were later included in 1987's Best of Crystal Gayle collection. I was very excited indeed when I learned that UK-based Edsel Records was releasing this album on CD, along with the rest of Crystal's Columbia and Warner/Elektra catalogs.
"True Love" shares disc space with Crystal's previous album "Hollywood, Tennessee". It has stood the test of time very well and is every bit as good as it was when I first heard it back in the early 80s, except the digitally remastered CD sounds much, much better than the original cassette. In addition to the three aforementioned hit singles, Crystal's cover of the David Gates & Bread (remember them?) song "Everything I Own" and "He Is Beautiful To Me" are standouts.
The other half of this disc, "Hollywood, Tennessee" was unfamiliar to me, except for the hit singles "Keepin' Power", "The Woman In Me", "You Never Gave Up On Me" and "Livin' In These Troubled Times." I expected the remaining tracks to be bland, pop filler -- Crystal's tenure with Columbia Records was her most pop-oriented period, after all. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it quite listenable. Her covers of "Lean On Me" and "Crying In The Rain" can hold their own with any other versions I've ever heard of these songs.
Edsel did a very nice job on this set. There are a lot of photos from the original albums, and there are even pictures of the original LP labels of each. The liner notes are extensive and the remastering makes these 25+ year old recordings sound like they were just produced last week. Listening to these albums has made me feel nostalgic. It's brought back some great memories, tinged with just a bit of regret that we're no longer getting music of this caliber from mainstream country. All in all, it was well worth the 25-year wait.