Written by Randy Owen
Radio & Records
#1 (3 weeks)
April 16 – April 30, 1982
#1 (1 week)
May 1, 1982
Alabama revisits the “Tennessee River” template with satisfying results.
“Mountain Music” served as the lead single and title track of the band’s most successful studio album. Though they had just had two big pop hits with a slick crossover sound, they went back to the groove that put them on the map in the first place, and it was ultimately a wise choice.
The band is just so confident now that it radiates off this record. Randy Owen’s enthusiasm at the mic gives “Mountain Music” a loose, live feel, and it combines well with his playful lyrics. He’s not trying to sell his back story to an audience now; he’s already found that audience, and he’s singing right to them.
The band figured out that the money shot was the musical breakdown at the end of “River,” so they don’t waste much time getting to an even better one on “Mountain Music.” It’s delightful. I must have heard it a thousand times since my early childhood, and it still made me smile as soon as it kicked in.
By the end of the eighties, it would be easy to call the biggest band of the decade a bit overrated, much like many of us did about the guy who was the biggest star by far of the nineties.
But you know what? When you launch a multiplatinum career with a handful of undeniable country classics, it’s easy to take the rest of your run for granted.
And this is an undeniable country classic.
“Mountain Music” gets an A.
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I HATE how the single version cuts out the neat little drum’n’bass bridge that gradually builds up the tempo for the fiddle solo. Did 10 seconds really make that much of a difference for radio? I’m not a big fan of the concept of single edits in general, but I understand why they couldn’t use the full length versions of Tennessee River or Fallin’ Again, or even the intro of the album version of MM with the mountain man. But cutting that just screams of radio promoters scared of playing 10 seconds of pure rock in the middle of the country/bluegrass/southern rock song (at least they kept the bass swoops in at the end).
When Alabama is good they are very, very good. When Alabama is bad, they are very, very bad. This classic single is Alabama on a good day, perhaps their best.