Trisha Yearwood rose to notable fame in 1991, when her self-titled debut album, Trisha Yearwood, was released and her first single, “She’s In Love with the Boy,” hit country radio and went straight to number one. Throughout the 90s, with songs such as “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” “Thinkin’ About You,” “Believe Me Baby (I Lied),” “How Do I Live (Without You),” “Perfect Love,” and “In Another’s Eyes” featuring Garth Brooks, Yearwood had a string of number one and top ten hits, and success with nine studio albums that all achieved a status of gold or higher.
Featuring new material from Yearwood for the first time in seven years, Prizefighter: Hit After Hit is a compilation album that blends new versions of some of Yearwood’s biggest musical hits and six brand new songs. These were handpicked just for the project, including the title track, “Prizefighter,” that features Kelly Clarkson as a guest vocalist.
After Hit: “Prizefighter.” From the first time I played the album, I fell for the song. With a catchy rift and tempo, the lyrics are powerful and yet subtle. It has anthemic qualities that are relatable to anyone. We always want to come out on top and this is just the song for that. The song was penned by Jessi Alexander, Sarah Buxton, and Ross Copperman who are no strangers to creating hits. Also featuring the vocals of Kelly Clarkson, the two manage to harmonize their strong voices and create a great sound on the track. I loved the line “Turn the sound of defeat into your battle cry.”
Hit: “Wrong Side of Memphis” was a top five hit for Yearwood in 1992. Released on her platinum selling album Hearts in Amor, it is a great song penned by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison. Yearwood performs this song live during her concerts and has since reworked some of the musical elements to create a bluesy, ballad sound in her live shows. I was slightly disappointed she kept the original arrangement on this song.
After Hit: “I Remember You” is written by Brad Rempel of country duo High Valley, Kelly Archer, and Ben Caver. It is a great heartfelt ballad. The string arrangement is well put together. I have always loved how Yearwood has been one of the few country artists who utilize strings in their music. Yearwood conveys the appropriate emotion through these simple, and touching lyrics.
Hit: “Walkaway Joe” was the second single off of the album Hearts in Amor. The song featured the vocals of Don Henley and peaked off at number two on the country charts in early 1993. Henley has maintained his vocals and note for note, sounds identical on the new version of this great song. A little over 21 years later and these two still harmonize like it was yesterday.
After Hit: “End of the World” has the writing talents of Shane McAnally who is no stranger to creating huge country music hits, Josh Osborne, and Trevor Rosen. A funky country ballad that follows the story of two new lovers. Yearwood uses her lower and softer range to put a haunting spin on her vocals for this track.
Hit: “In Another’s Eyes” was a number two hit for Yearwood in 1997. Featuring the vocals of Garth Brooks, the single was originally found on her 1997 compilation, (Songbook) A Collection of Hits as well as Brooks’ 1997 album, Sevens. After 17 years the duo still sounds great together.
Hit: “Perfect Love” quickly became Yearwood’s fifth number one hit after it was released as the third single in January of 1998 from her compilation, (Songbook) A Collection of Hits. Upbeat and vocally strong, Yearwood still shines on this track. It has a quick tempo and a lot of vocal runs that Yearwood still pulls off.
Hit: “How Do I Live” was written by one of the music industry’s finest songwriters, Dianne Warren. Featured in the 1997 film Con Air, “How Do I Live” was recorded by LeAnn Rimes but was later re-recorded by Yearwood. Rimes who was 14 at the time had her cut of the song passed by film executives based solely on her age. Yearwood’s version made the final cut for the film. Both versions of the song were released in May 1997, and battled on the charts. Yearwood ruled the country charts and Rimes dominated the Hot 100, Top 40, and Adult Contemporary charts.
After Hit: “Met Him In A Motel Room” is written by Rory Lee Feek who is half of the country duo, Joey & Rory and Jamie Teachenor who has had his share of country hits. An interesting take on the topic of suicide, it is a powerful ballad about finding God. The story follows a young woman who had planned to commit the act, but stumbled upon a bible in the motel room where she planned to take her life and found the strength to carry on.
Hit: “She’s In Love With The Boy” is Yearwood’s first single and first number one single. Released in 1991, on her self-titled debut album, Trisha Yearwood the song helped launch the career of Yearwood and set the bar for a career of musical achievements. It is great to hear this tune dusted off and polished after almost 23 years.
After Hit: “Your Husband’s Cheatin’ on Us” is a tongue and cheek tune written by songwriters Matraca Berg, Marshall Chapman, and Jill McCorkle. In addition to the many hits Berg has penned of Yearwood including “They Call It Falling for a Reason” and “Everybody Knows,” as well as multiple hits for other members of country music, it shows that she can still pen some of the best tunes in country music. This had a swampy southern sound that I fell in love with. The track reminded me of a song you might hear from pioneers such as Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette.
Hit: “Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love” is the title track of Yearwood’s 2007 album release. It is also her first and last recording on the label, Big Machine. While the single itself broke into the top 20 and the album peaked off at number 10, the album failed to have commercial success in sales. Though a solid effort on Yearwood’s behalf, it contains some of her best vocal work to date.
Hit: “Georgia Rain” was the lead single from Yearwood’s 2005 album, Jasper County. Originally titled “A Gust of Rain,” the lyrics were changed to make reference to the theme of Jasper County. Though Jasper County topped off at number one, “Georgia Rain” only managed to peak at 15 on the country charts. It is her highest charting single since “I Would’ve Loved You Anyway” peaked off at number four in 2001.
After Hit: “You Can’t Trust The Weatherman” is written by Ashley Gorley who has written multiple hits over the past ten years, Wade Kirby, and Bryan Simpson. I thought this was a great upbeat track. It reminded me a little of “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde” by Travis Tritt. The story follows two people who meet, end up down on their luck, and commit a robbery, manage to get away because of bad weather, but in the end the bad weather is what ruins them.
Hit: “XXX’s and OOO’s” was Yearwood’s second number one hit. Released as the first single in 1994 on her platinum selling album, Thinkin’ About You. The title track was released as the second single off of the album and it too went straight to number one.
Hit: “The Song Remembers When” is the leading single and title track to Yearwood’s 1993 album release. The track topped off at number two and the album went on to become platinum selling.
While I have to admit that I have been a fan of Yearwood for a long time, it was refreshing to hear some of her classic hits all “polished up” sounding “shiny and new.” Yearwood shows that after all these years she can still sing the heck out of all of the songs that catapulted her into a country superstar. Keeping the same musical arrangements as the originals, you can hear the growth and stamina in her voice. Vocally Yearwood is as strong and powerful as she has ever been.
Recruiting longtime producer Garth Fundis to lend his production talents on this project, Yearwood has a terrific album on her hands. Yearwood knows how to pick songs, and she picks them well. Yearwood utilizes the best songwriters, musicians, talents, and producers in the business. The new material created is polished and sounds flawless. The album is the perfect showcase for the prize that is Yearwood’s vocals.
Compilation of greatest hits or not, Prizefighter: Hit After Hit is a great album. The album creates a great contrast with new and old material. Rerecording old material is a great way to resubmit it to the public as part of a hits compilation as well as introduce new material. It would be nice to see other artists follow this path when releasing new material or some of their greatest hits.