We take a look at BGO Records‘ quadruple re-release of albums by Country music super duo Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton. Originally released in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1980, the set comprises “We Found It”, “Porter ‘n’ Dolly”, “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” and “Porter & Dolly”.
Beginning with We Found It, we find a typical and pleasing example of Wagoner and Parton’s collaborative output. The sound is in line with their earlier work, their voices consistently matched. Song styles vary between contemporary country, the lightly tongue-in-cheek marital conflict song popular in Nashville music of the day, as well as gospel flavours.
Porter ‘n’ Dolly kicks off with two medium-tempo numbers, Please Don’t Stop Loving Me and The Fire That Keeps You Warm. They are a great opener for a very strong album, filled with songs that represent this pair’s peak in creative output and popularity. Along with We Found It, it also offers the odd echo and preview of what the popular music world would later discover about Parton as a solo artist and creator.
Say Forever You’ll Be Mine offers an opening title track composed by Parton, which more recent fans may recognize from a re-recording for her solo album Pure and Simple. However, this version has the magic of these two voices elevating each other.
The recording techniques of the era totally complimented duos like Wagoner & Parton, bringing the richness and spirituality out of the voices and crossing the physical medium to touch the listener. This disc is a prime example of such feeling.
There are still strong tracks here, but we begin to drift away from peak Porter & Dolly. Say Forever You’ll Be Mine offers The Beginning, a sweet, soulful, hopeful Parton composition typical of her heartening story songs. This is a high point for this disc, along with the up-tempo If You Were Mine composed by one of Parton’s brothers, Randy.
Track two from Porter & Dolly is perhaps the strongest echo of their past. It is a robust track, whilst also feeling gentle. It features their signature paired vocal style, grounding this album among their earlier work, whilst maintaining a modern feel for the time. Along with Little David’s Harp, originally recorded for the We Found It album, this track might have fitted better alongside their earlier work than here.
The production of this set is very smooth, warm and typical of Nashville recordings of the era. For fans of this era in country music, this set will not disappoint.
Porter and Dolly’s chemistry is immediately obvious here. Anybody who was hitherto unaware of the magic that existed between them on record will quickly discover why the pair worked so well and so often together.
Both discs contain fine examples of the songwriting many will be familiar with. Wagoner’s solo writing output tends to be fairly spiritual and traditional in style. Whereas Parton’s styles are so varied and eclectic that listeners may find much among her solo efforts that is more familiar; by the time these albums were recorded and released she had matured into the songwriter we well know her to be today.
A Little Something Extra…
The included booklet is full of very welcome extra information, as usual from BGO Records. It is always nice to see testimonials from the original releases, as well as information on production and session personnel.
The biographical information is extensive, although somewhat skewed towards Parton. The original album cover photos are peppered through the booklet, as a supplement to being displayed on the set’s front cover and the signature BGO cardboard slipcase.
WE FOUND IT
- Love City
- Between Us
- We Found It
- Satan’s River
- I’ve Been Married (Just As Long As You Have)
- I Am Always Waiting
- Sweet Rachel Ann
- That’s When Love Will Mean The Most
- Love Have Mercy On Us
- How Close They Must Be
PORTER ’N’ DOLLY
- Please Don’t Stop Loving Me
- The Fire That Keeps You Warm
- Too Far Gone
- We’d Have To Be Crazy
- The Power Of Love
- Sixteen Years
- Together You And I
- Without You
- Sounds Of Nature
SAY FOREVER YOU’LL BE MINE
- Say Forever You’ll Be Mine
- Something To Reach For
- Our Love
- The Beginning
- I Have No Right To Care
- If You Were Mine
- Love To See Us Through
- How Can I (Help You Forgive Me)
- Life Rides The Train
PORTER & DOLLY
- Making Plans
- If You Go, I’ll Follow You
- Hide Me Away
- Someone Just Like You
- Little David’s Harp
- Beneath The Sweet Magnolia Tree
- Touching Memories
- Daddy Did His Best
- If You Say I Can
- Singing On The Mountain
Although the latter half of disc two is perhaps rather mismatched as it seems to be comprised of unused tracks from previous album sessions, this set as a whole is very strong. Nicely representative of the output of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton as the incredible duo they were.
The reproduction quality here is second to none, with incredible clarity and warmth. The extra material included in the booklet, although very Parton-heavy, is nonetheless welcome.
Overall a great collection for fans of this duo as well as lovers of country music of the era. Supplementing the previous 2 Wagoner & Parton releases, this is also a nice addition to BGO Records’ country music collection.
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton – We Found It / Porter ‘n’ Dolly / Say Forever You’ll Be Mine/ Porter & Dolly is available from BGO Records.