Waylon Jennings – Never Could Toe the Mark (1984/2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 27:30 minutes | 529 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © RCA – Legacy
Never Could Toe the Mark was released at a pivotal time for Jennings, who was trying to get sober after over twenty years of drug abuse, beginning with amphetamines in the late 1960s and early 1970s and cocaine into the mid-1980s. In the audio version of his autobiography Waylon, he recalled that he was in such bad physical shape that he decided to take off April 1984 so he could clean up and get his health back, although he still intended to use: “I told Jessi [Colter, Waylon’s wife] I’d always be a drug addict and I’d always do cocaine, and that this was just temporary, to slow it down.” Jennings rented a house in Arizona and went cold turkey, and it was largely because of his young son Shooter that he decided to quit drugs for good.
Never Could Toe the Mark would be the singer’s next-to-last studio album for RCA and sounds like a stop-gap release as Jennings was in the midst of his rehabilitation. The album’s lone hit single was the title track, which peaked at #6. Jennings also made a music video for the song which features him playing a mandolin. For the most part the mood of the album is light, with the singer composing four of the albums ten tracks that celebrate his home state (“People Up in Texas”), outlaw bravado (“Never Could Toe the Mark,” “Gemini Song”), and sobriety (“Talk Good Boogie”). A Dixie band makes an appearance on “If She’ll Leave Her Mama,” a rarity for a Jennings’ record. Jennings continued his longstanding practice of remaking rock and pop songs in his own style as well, covering Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer.” He also records his own version of Dire Straits’ country-tinged rocker “Setting Me Up.” “Sparkling Brown Eyes” is a remake of Bill Cox & Cliff Hobbs song from 1937 that was popularized by Webb Pierce with The Wilburn Brothers in 1954, and by George Jones in 1960.
01. Never Could Toe the Mark
02. Talk Good Boogie
03. People up In Texas
04. Sparkling Brown Eyes
05. If She’ll Leave Her Mama
06. Settin’ Me Up
07. The Gemini Song (When I’m Bad, I’m Bad)
08. Where Would I Be (Without You)
09. Whatever Gets You Through the Night
10. The Entertainer