When John Berry arrived on the country music scene in the early half of the 1990s (a.k.a. country’s boom time) he instantly set himself apart from the pack with his unique, textured tenor voice. John also had spent years touring the Athens, Georgia club scene and had released several albums before Capital Records snatched him up. After a solid 8 year run with Capital, John parted ways with the label with a “Greatest Hits” project. After releasing a few records on his own (a live album and a romantic themed cover project among them), John set about re-recording his Greatest Hits. Instead of seeking out Wynonna Judd to re-do their duet “We Can’t Unmake Love,” John instead chose to record “When A Man Loves A Woman” for the re-branded “Hits.”
The album is sequenced exactly the same as the Capital version. In fact, upon listening to the two discs back to back, it’d be hard to spot any differences. Berry is still one of music’s best and emotive vocalists. The fun romp “Kiss Me In The Car” was the second single from his self-titled debut record. While only a top 20 hit, it did set John up very nicely for his first single, the smash hit “Your Love Amazes Me.” As romantic and classic a ballad as you’ll ever find, the song, to this day, is John’s signature tune. Poetic lyrically, the song has been covered by many other artists but nothing compares to John’s slow-building vocal on the song.
John’s sophomore album “Standing On The Edge of Goodbye” churned out a few hits with the most notable tracks being the Grammy nominated, number one hit title track and forlorn ballad “If I Had Any Pride Left At All,” a song which John previewed acoustically on the 1995 CMA award show. “You And Only You” appeared on both of John’s first two records and it remains a personal favorite with the steel-drenched vocal and acoustic guitar backing a fiery vocal from John.
The third and final album from the Capital years was “Faces” and that record was an interesting release because the label issued numerous ‘faces,’ or covers of it (they did a similar thing with Garth and Deana Carter around the same time). While John’s song often had traditional instruments, he often received criticisms about his ‘pop-leaning’ voice. “I Will, If You Will” challenged such opinions with it’s Floyd Cramer like piano intro and traditional arrangement. The great Patty Loveless originally did the harmonies on the song and it’s probably the one thing I miss about this re-make (although John’s wife does a fine job taking Patty’s place). John’s third (and so far last) number one hit was the wonderful up-tempo “She’s Taken A Shine.” It is, perhaps, my second favorite single from John’s capitol days behind “Your Love Amazes Me.” It’s a Lee Roy Parnell-like track with punchy drums setting a cool tempo while the guitar fills in the melody.
As previously mentioned, John chose to add “When A Man Loves A Woman” to the record for two reasons. One, it gave his extremely loyal fans a reason to purchase the record while secondly replacing the lone song that wasn’t a hit on the original compilation. John’s rendering of the classic hit isn’t much different from the oft-covered song but for what it lacks in originality John more than makes up for with his personable, powerful vocal. It also serves as a good primer for John’s previous album of romantic songs. While there’s not any strong reason (aside from the new track) to pick-up this record if you already own the original Capital compilation, if you’re one of those who liked the radio hits of the 1990’s but never bought a John Berry record, then you’ll wanna pick it up. It gives John more support (he receives all the royalties, minus songwriter royalties, from the sale) while also giving you a sturdy collection of 1990’s hits.
Note: I purchased this record through eMusic.com. It’s available through that site, iTunes, or in physical CD form at www.johnberry.net.