“Mountain of Love”
Written by Harold Dorman
Radio & Records
#1 (3 weeks)
February 19 – March 5, 1982
#1 (1 week)
March 20, 1982
Does anything sound better than a veteran artist who’s been reinvigorated?
We heard the new vitality in Charley Pride’s previous chart topper, and perhaps as a product of that record’s success, his confidence is through the roof on his engaging cover of “Mountain of Love.”
There is so much going on with the production here that Stefon could sell it as a NYC tourist destination:
Country radio’s hottest track is “Mountain of Love.” It has everything! Giggly backup singers! Dramatic strings! Mealy mouthfuls of rapid fire lyrics!
It would be an absolute mess with a lesser singer at the mic. But Pride draws on his incredible skill as a pure country vocalist, all while seamlessly incorporating the pop and R&B elements that made this record a hit multiple times by artists of different genres before Pride resurrected the number.
He’s an exceptional ringmaster and he keeps this entire circus running, turning in a performance that practically oozes charisma.
And it’s not even the best No. 1 single from this album. That one’s up next.
“Mountain of Love” gets an A.
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Think about some of the most celebrated and famous career resuscitations in country music history. My mind immediately goes to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings sessions with Rick Rubin. Or what about Willie Nelson’s later works with Buddy Cannon?
In both those cases, the producer tapped into the strengths of what historically already made the artist noteworthy and special in the first place. As much as anything, they introduced an artist to a new fanbase who may have largely unfamiliar with the artist’s early work or significance. The artist didn’t need to reinvent their sound so much as persist with their signature sound for a new generation of listeners to discover. Song selection was as important as anything to that process. Often times, the final delivery involved a sonic tear-down that would take the artist’s music back to the the stylistic studs of their original sound.
Pride has fully leaned into a new singing style and production value. He has fully gone the other direction, embracing enhancements, accessories, and additions to his original hard country sound. He is reintroducing himself as reinvented singer with all the bells and whistles contemporary Nashville production has to offer.
And absolutely killing it while doing it.
The Hank William’s tribute album was the perfect set-up pitch to what he is offering here and now. He had hinted at this potential with earlier hits like “Burgers and Fries” and “Roll on Mississippi,” but he is fully owning and selling his new approach now.
Compare “The Snakes Crawl at Night” to “Mountain of Love.” The evolution is wild.
What’s more, he sounds absolutely amazing in both capacities.
He wouldn’t be able to successfully ride this new sound as long as his old, but he was at the top of his vocal game while he did.
The chart toppers from the early eighties have been a total blast to revisit.