John Michael Montgomery’s 1995 Self Titled Album Deserves To Hold A Spot In Any Country Music Collection.
Welcome to BORN Country’s Album Essentials! Here, we will discuss some of the most iconic country music albums of the 90’s. These are albums that should be on the shelves of any true 90’s country fan and have stood the test of time. Each album will include songs that not only made incredible radio hits, but we will also dive into the lesser known album cuts that never made it into the country music charts.
I first became aware of John Michael Montgomery a little later than most, when “I Swear” hit the radio in late 1993. At this time, I would also become familiar with hits like “Life’s A Dance” and “Be My Baby Tonight,” but it was “Sold” that really grabbed my attention in 1995. Based on this single alone, I knew that I needed to have the CD, which became an all-time favorite of mine.
Montgomery’s 1995 self-titled album produced five radio singles in “I Can Love You Like That,” the above mentioned “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident),” “No Man’s Land,” “Cowboy Love” and “Long As I Live.” The album reached #1 on the Billboard’s Top Country Albums Chart and #5 on the U.S. Billboard 200 (Overall) Chart!
I Can Love You Like That (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Steve Diamond, Jennifer Kimball, Maribeth Derry
The first single released from John Michael Montgomery’s self titled album is quite recognizable, even outside of the country music world. In 1995, R&B group All-4-One covered “I Can Love You Like That” for their second album, And The Music Speaks. It certainly isn’t everyday that you have a country song being recorded by an artist of another genre! That just shows the popularity that country music had gained in the mid-90’s. Montgomery’s version would climb to #1 on the country charts in April of 1995. After being knocked out of the top spot by Brooks & Dunn, a very rare occurrence saw the song climb to the #1 position AGAIN a week later!
- R&B group, All-4-One had previously covered John Michael Montgomery’s earlier hit single, “I Swear,” also landing it at #1 on the U.S. Hot 100 Chart.
Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) (Chart Peak: #1) – Writers: Richard Fagan, Rob Royer
Ah, the memories of trying to be the first of my friends to know and be able to keep up with all of the words in this awesome song. As a kid listening to this song, I had originally believed that JMM, as the narrator was actually attempting to purchase a beautiful women from an auction. It was later brought to my attention that the woman he was trying to get the attention of was just ATTENDING the auction. I was 10 years old, what the heck did I know?! Anyhow, with that cleared up, i still find it absurd that one would try to pick-up a woman using his auctioneering skills… but that might just be me. “Sold” would go on to become Montgomery’s sixth U.S. #1 single and was named Billboard’s Hot Country #1 Song Of The Year!
- Country music parodist, Cletus T. Judd, released a parody song titled “Skoal (The Grundy County Spitting Incident,” on his sophomore album, I Stoled This Record.
No Man’s Land (Chart Peak: #3) – Writers: Steve Seskin, John Scott Sherrill
There have been songs about “Mama” in country music dating back further than the eye can see. In most songs, “Mama” is a strong woman who gives her children the best that she can, even when she has tough time doing so for herself. Montgomery’s “No Man’s Land” pays tribute to those women who give their all for their kids despite the struggles of life. The song reached #3 on country music charts.
Cowboy Love (Chart Peak: #4) – Writers: Jeff Wood, Bill Douglas
In the same vain as “Be My Baby Tonight” and “Beer And Bones,” the fourth single from this 1995 album is perfect for a night out at the honky-tonk. The song also reminds me a bit of Travis Tritt’s 1989 debut, “Country Club,” as far as lyrical content goes. I suppose sometimes that someone just needs a little push to realize that they’d love the country life!
- The “Cowboy Love” music video was directed by Marc Ball who had been behind the camera for every JMM video up to this point except for “Sold.”
Long As I Live (Chart Peak: #4) – Writers: Rick Bowles, Will Robinson
The love ballad is simply what John Michael Montgomery does best and “Long As I Live” belongs right near the top of his list. “I Swear,” “I Love The Way You Love Me” and “I Can Love You Like That” all paved the way for this to become a major hit for Montgomery in 1996. This would be the final single released from this album his fourth record, What I Do The Best, would follow-up in September of 1996.
If one more song were to be pulled from John Michael Montgomery’s self-titled album, it would have to be “High School Heart” (Jerry Laseter, Kerry Kurt Phillips). This song focusses on the love of two high school sweethearts. The narrator looks back at memories from throughout their courtship and sings of how their love is still as strong as ever. Classic John Michael Montgomery here, folks!
“Just Like A Rodeo” (Roger Brown, Tommy Conners) stands out on the album, as it features a horn section of tenor saxophonist Dennis Solee and George Tidwell on trumpet. I hadn’t heard this song in a long time, but listening again in preparation for this article, I was incredibly thrown off by the brass. I feel like it may have been an unnecessary addition to the song, but I can’t fault Montgomery for trying!
You may recognize “Holdin’ Onto Something,” (Tom Shapiro, Thom McHugh) the sixth track from the album. For years I thought that I had just heard a different version of JMM performing the song on the radio, but that is not the case. In fact, “Not On Your Love” and “The Car” singer, Jeff Carson recorded the song and released it to radio in the spring of 1996. Though I enjoy Carson’s #6 charting version of the song, it’s Montgomery’s that still sticks with me to this day.
The final two tracks from John Montgomery’s self-titled album closes out with “Heaven Sent Me You” (John E. McCollum, Len Doolin) “It’s What I Am” (John Calvert, Aaron Sain). “Heaven” is another fantastic love ballad which we have grown to love of Montgomery. “It’s What I Am,” on the other hand, is another country rocker, similar to the sound of “Cowboy Love.” Like any song above, either of these could have easily been another radio hit.
John Michael Montgomery‘s self-titled album could very well be the best album of his long and ongoing quarter century long career. With five singles reaching the country Top 10, including two #1 singles and a strong batch of album cuts filling in the gaps, there is no doubt that this record belongs in our Album Essentials collection!