10 Albums Any True Urban Cowboy Should Own

Categories: Texas Me

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Eddie Rabbitt, Horizon (1980)
Another Yankee who helped define country music in the Urban Cowboy era, Eddie Rabbitt took to honky-tonk like a natural on early singles like "Two Dollars In the Jukebox." But Horizon was his masterpiece, a semi-repurposing of Elvis' Sun Records aura -- check out "Short Road to Love" -- that became a smash via brilliant singles "I Love a Rainy Night" and "Driving My Life Away." Big ballad "I Need to Fall In Love" is even more in line with the typical urban-cowboy sound.


Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (1978)
Houston's own Kenny Rogers had flirted with stardom ever since his psych band the First Edition's great late-'60s single "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," but The Gambler is where the Roaster at last truly established himself as one of the great balladeers of his day. Besides the iconic title track and tremendous "She Believes In Me," The Gambler tosses in curious trifles like the Tony Joe White-ish "The Hoodooin' of Miss Fannie DeBerry" and salutes fellow Houston native Mickey Newbury on "San Francisco Mabel Joy."


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Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Night Moves (1976)
My uncle once told me that every man his age had a copy of Night Moves on cassette in his car. Not only is John Travolta's Urban Cowboy character Bud about my uncle's age, but listen to Night Moves today and apart from the absolute R&B barnburners ("Come to Poppa"), it's amazing how much of it you can hear on an average modern country radio station.


Various Artists, Live at Gilley's (1999)
More than any other album on this list, sounds exactly like what went on at Gilley's -- because this 4-CD set 56 perfomances were ripped straight from the club's soundboard, duh. Accordingly, its four discs offers a wide cross section of acts who headed down Spencer Highway, from then up-and-comers (Roseanne Cash, the Kendalls), old-timers (Fats Domino, Ernest Tubb), regional stars (Freddy Fender) and outlaws (Johnny Paycheck), an accurate depiction of how broad Gilley's booking policy really was. Here's an Amazon link if you want to see all 56.


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2 comments
JimWC
JimWC

Is this timeboxed?  Because if we're allowed to go past 1976 I would add the Eagles' first album.  As perfect a blend of country and rock as there is.

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