Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Alabama, “Love in the First Degree”

“Love in the First Degree”


Written by Tim DuBois and Jim Hurt

Radio & Records

#1 (4 weeks)

December 11, 1981 – January 1, 1982


#1 (2 weeks)

December 26, 1981 – January 2, 1982

This is as good as early eighties pop country gets.

“Love in the First Degree” was the biggest release from Feels So Right, and it remains the band’s biggest crossover hit, reaching the top fifteen of the Hot 100 and the top five of the adult contemporary chart.  It was also a massive country hit, and powered the album toward an eventual quadruple platinum certification.

This is the only single from Feels So Right with some tempo, and as a general rule, their eighties work was best when it had a bit of a beat. It works so well because Randy Owen gives a performance of complete, unrestrained joy.  You can practically hear him grinning from ear to ear as he accepts his life sentence. 

It’s an entirely new gear for him on a radio single, perhaps reflecting the confidence built up from the success of their previous album. Owen’s swagger will help drive their music moving forward, sometimes to its detriment. 

But this? This is the sweet spot right here, and helps explain why they were so effective at broadening country music’s audience during this time period.  

“Love in the First Degree” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. It’ll be interesting as we go along into the 80’s to compare Alabama from the 80’s to Alabama from the 90’s. I always preferred their output in the 80’s. They were innovative and not in a creative rut during this time and can understand why the most successful country band in the 80’s (Or 80’s in general). They kept it country enough and never claimed to be anything but a country band despite bringing in a lot or rock/pop influences that would say otherwise. It was always just good music.

  2. This is their signature ’80’s song and sound in my mind.

    Can somebody please explain the whipping percussive effects to me? Is that an electronic drum machine? A synthesizer? “The King of the Bullwhip” Lash Larue?

    It’s simultaneously awful and charming.

    Randy Owens does sound great here.

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