Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Razzy Bailey, “Friends”/”Anywhere There’s a Jukebox”

“Friends”

Written by Danny Morrison and Johnny Slate

“Anywhere There’s a Jukebox”

Written by Razzy Bailey

Razzy Bailey

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

June 6, 1981

We get another “two for the price of one” record from Razzy Bailey, the early eighties king of the double-sided hit.

“Friends” is the proper A-side. It’s a tender ballad about how two friends eventually find themselves in a romantic relationship: “who makes better lovers than friends?”

The sentiment is touching.  The vocal performance is shaky at best.  Bailey is trying, but he’s not quite succeeding.  The vulnerability of the lyric and the sincerity of his performance keep it from being a disaster, but it does not reflect well on his producer or his label that this was deemed good enough for final release.

As for “Anywhere There’s a Jukebox,” it’s evidence of how a songwriter knows his own strengths as a singer.  He’s in a perfect honky tonk groove here. There’s nothing terribly original here lyrically, but when you’re talking about cheating at dive bars, do you really need to reinvent the wheel? As with his last B-side, I appreciate his ability to show his reference for country, music, legends in his lyrics.

Bailey almost had a third consecutive double-sided hit, but one side ran out of steam and peaked at No. 8, while the other made it all the way to the top.

“Friends” gets a C.

“Anywhere There’s a Jukebox” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. Bailey’s struggles with a countrypolitan production show that being slick is slippery.

    I always assume that artists who can’t make it work underestimate the importance of the singer’s voice in the mix. The lush orchestration, layered production, and background vocalists must provide a comforting false sense of security for artists wanting to explore the style..

    As often as not, they quickly end up being exposed as simply not being up to the task of everything surrounding them; they are overwhelmed by it all.

    Big productions demand big voices capable of nuanced vocal dynamics. Think Ray Price, Patsy Cline, and Charlie Rich. Mickey Gilley and Ronnie Milsap similarly are up to the challenge of their early ’80’s countrypolitan performances.

    Bailey is not in their league as a singer. “Friends’ is a pretty sentiment, but Bailey hold its back from being a beautiful song.

    He is much better suited to what he does with ‘Anywhere There’s a Honky-Tonk.”

    I wish Bailey had had a longer run at radio.

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