Album ReviewsHAVE ARRIVED
Uh oh, look out! The Oak Ridge Boys are really beginning to hit their stride with this release! Unlike the first two country releases, which had some filler songs that were true non-hit b-sides that you would skip over, this album doesn't have a bad song on it. Whoever was responsible for the song selection on this album, be it the Oak Ridge Boys, Jim Halsey, or Ron Chancey, they hit a home run here. None of the songs on this album deserve to be skipped over. Yielding three hits from this collection made the Oak Ridge Boys a force to be reckoned with in country music. From the beginning song 'Sail Away', on through the end, you're treated to great songs, filled with great harmonies. Bass singer, Richard Sterban, performs his first complete lead vocal here in 'Dream On', and sets the tone for many sappy love songs for years to come....giving the female fans something to melt over as they listen to the record, and something to scream about at the live shows.
If the first two country records were connected, then this release starts a new beginning. Better songs are showcased, better production is very evident, and the Boys sound like seasoned veterans in country music. Songs such as 'There Must Be Something About Me' features a horn section wailing away in the background as William Lee Golden sings his heart out. Duane Allen croons out smooth lead after smooth lead on this album. You can feel Joe Bonsall's energy throughout this record, whether he's singing harmony, or if he's belting out the lead on the fantastic 'Dancing The Night Away'. And Richard Sterban shines over and over on this collection be it with lead vocals or the many bass fills he treats us to.
Though all the years, and all the albums,
this may be the quintessential Oak Ridge Boys album from start to finish.
This album was the third totally-country release from the Oaks. By this time, the Oaks were fairly well-established in the country field (thus the title "Have Arrived"), and they decide to venture a little further with their material. Included in this release are three top-five hits: the dreamy "Sail Away" (still a favorite at concerts), "Dream On," a cover of an old Righteous Brothers tune, and "Leavin' Louisiana," an upbeat, tongue-in-cheek story of a traveling salesman in Louisiana. Also included is "Dancing The Night Away" (a long-time concert pleaser), and a bouncy, delightfully raw-sounding rendition of "My Radio Sure Sounds Good To Me."
This time around, the Boys utilized more instrumentation. This is the first ORB country album to feature a full horn section (evident on "My Radio" and "There Must Be Something About Me That She Loves"). They are not overused, however, staying subtle, yet refreshing.
The Oaks' gospel roots are still evident on this album. "Dig A Little Deeper In The Well" could just as easily have been cut by the Cathedrals as the Boys.
My two favorite cuts, however, are the two power ballads that Duane Allen really shines on. "Sometimes The Rain Won't Let Me Sleep" is a tear-jerking sad story of memories and those "little things that remind you..." "Every Now And Then" deals with two close friends who are there for each other, but afraid to commit solely to each other.
The production on this album is noticeably 70's (which gives it that nostalgic feeling), yet is still enjoyable even today (especially with today's country music production values going DOWN THE TUBES!).
This is a great effort by the Oaks, and definitely one worth buying.
The Oaks had major success in their first two years at MCA with “Y’all Come Back Saloon” and “Room Service”, having a total of five Top Ten hits, and winning Vocal Group of the Year at the CMA and ACM awards. However, their success was just beginning, as they would release what many say was their greatest album of all time in 1979, “The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived”.
This album had some more country arrangements on it than “Room Service”, but it also became the first country album to have a full horn section on it. The Oaks also had half of this album feature covers, something only the “The Oak Ridge Boys” from 1974, the 1977 Live album and “The Boys Are Back” have had. Duane Allen has said in the past the Oaks have done covers when it felt right, but he doesn‘t want the Oaks to become primarily a ”cover group”. “Have Arrived” was also the last album to be released by ABC records, before the label was bought out by MCA.
The first song on this album was the first single, the mega-hit “Sail Away”, which is a cover of a Kenny Rogers hit. Ron Chancey had to re-record a part on the second verse “then, a smile”, after Duane Allen accidentally sang “but, a smile”. This song was a #1 hit on Cashbox’s Country Charts, and had a great run in the Top Ten for seven weeks, and made it to number two on the Billboard Country Charts, staying at number two for two weeks, and the song stayed in the Billboard Top Ten for six weeks. It also was a hit on the Adult Contemporary charts, reaching #29. I should add that “Sail Away was a number one Country hit on Canada’s RPM charts for a whole month, their longest #1 stint ever. So “Sail Away” was a huge record for the Oaks. This was a song that I liked.
The second song on the album was a Sonny Throckmorton-written novelty song that was a popular one in their live show in 1979 that features William Lee Golden, “There Must Be Something About Me That She Loves”. Golden sings some unusually high notes in this song, and this song was one of the first to feature a full horn section, which was used two years later on “Elvira”. The Oaks just brought this song back to their live show, minus the horns, and you’ll probably hear it if you attend an Oaks show in 2016. I thought this song was a little better than average.
Next is a heartbreaking song about a female that dies in childbirth, “Sometimes the Rain Won’t Let Me Sleep”. This was a song that I liked. The arrangement is excellent, Duane’s lead is one of his best, and one of those instances where he could, in those years, be compared favorably against any pop singer, which is his milieu. This song would have been a hit on the AC and country charts, and could have been a classic. Might even have crossed to Top 40 pop. This song was done live in 1979, though I have never heard it live.
Next is what many say is the worst song on the album, but even IT is good, which tells you just how good the album is, “I Gotta Get Over This”. This was one of the first novelty songs on the album, which is a nice song, done well, but as I mentioned, is a bit overshadowed by the rest of the album. As filler goes, many call it great filler. It's a good novelty song for Richard, with a bass solo for Richard, and like the rest of “Have Arrived”, is very well-arranged. I liked this song, and I didn’t think it was the worst (or should I say, the “least best”) song on the album. I have no evidence of this song ever being done live.
The fifth song on the album is one of the five covers on the album. A cover of a funk song (yes, a funk song) by Graham Central Station (written by band leader Larry Graham), “My Radio Sure Sounds Good to Me”. Some have even called this the best song on the album. The Oaks’ version wasn’t as “funkified” as Graham Central Station’s version, but it did have a bass solo by Richard, and was another one of the first novelty songs the Oaks did. It was also another one of the first Oaks songs to feature a horn section. This song shows what the Oaks could do vocally, at least in the studio. A clever idea for a novelty song, and well-conceived. One of their most exciting tracks ever, really. It was a song I wouldn’t give a four-star rating to, but a song I would rank close to one. This song is a great one!
Next was the album’s second single, and the only single to ever feature the bass voice of Richard Sterban, “Dream On”. It was very hard finding leads for Richard. There just weren’t many songs out there that suited his voice. Two years earlier, Ron Chancey was searching for a song for Richard. Diane Petty, who was the head of ABC/Dunhill, the publishing company at ABC records, found “Dream On" after a very short time, and knew it was great for Richard just as soon as she heard it. It was eventually chosen as a single. “Dream On” was a #2 hit on Cashbox’s Country Charts, and it made it to #7 on the Billboard Country Charts for two weeks, and stayed in the Top Ten for four weeks. It also charted on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, making it to #45. “Dream On” was a song that I liked.
Next was my favorite song on the album, and the third single, the Rodney Crowell-written Emmylou Harris cover “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”. This song is one of the best story songs I’ve ever heard. After “Sail Away” and “Dream On” crossed over, the Oaks made the decision to try a country song. “Leaving Louisiana” made it to #1 on the Billboard Country Charts, as well as Cashbox’s Country Charts, and stayed in the Billboard Country Top Ten for six weeks.
Next on this album was another song I liked, “Every Now and Then”, which was covered by Brenda Lee several years later. This song could have been a huge Adult Contemporary hit. “Have Arrived” was full of potential hits, not just the three that were. “Every Now And Then” could have been released pop while “Leaving Louisiana” was pushed country, and they'd have had another hit and sold more albums. Outstanding lead vocal and a great arrangement, perfect for radio at the time.
Next was a song that wasn’t released as a single, but has become one of the most popular songs in the Oaks’ live show ever, “Dig a Little Deeper in the Well”. This song is a gospel-styled novelty song with the lead shifting between Oaks on verses. The Philadelphia Phillies used this as their theme song in 1980. This wasn’t a song I would give a four star-rating to, but it was song I would give very close to one. It is GREAT!
The last song is one that has become another extremely popular song in the Oaks’ live show, but for me, this original recording was the low point on this album for me, “Dancing the Night Away”. This song was covered by the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and written by bandleader Russell Smith. Tanya Tucker and Crystal Gayle also covered this. The Oaks did not release this as a single, since the Aces had this single out to pop radio, and Tucker to country radio, so it didn’t make sense to single it. The Oaks’ live version of this song is EXCELLENT, but this original recording on “Have Arrived” left me wanting, due to its arrangement. I did not like the fiddle in this song, which was a rare Ron Chancey misstep.
“Sail Away” also included a B-Side that was not included on the album, the Garland Craft-written “The Only One”, which I thought was about average. However, many have said it was a better song than you usually get on the B-sides, and should have been put on an album. That should tell you something about how good this album was, that even the B-sides are better than usual!
The Oaks promoted this album with an appearance on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert, which I used to have on YouTube, but a copyright claim by the owners of the footage took it down. The Oaks sang the three singles and “Dancing the Night Away”.
“Have Arrived” reached #3 on the Cashbox Album Charts, and #5 on the Billboard Pop Album Charts. However, for reasons I still cannot figure out to this day, it sidn’t chart on either the Billboard or Cashbox Pop Album Charts. Weird. This album also was certified Gold (500,000 copies sold) on August 29, 1980.
This wasn’t my personal favorite Oak Ridge Boys album of all-time, since there were a few I liked more, maybe because I’m not the biggest on the 70s sound this album exhibits, but I would definitely rank it in my Top 5. It was GREAT. As I said at the beginning, many call this THE best Oak Ridge Boys album of all-time, and I am sure you would feel the same way. If you haven’t heard this album yet, you need to give it a listen!
My Favorite Tracks:All tracks are exceptional except “Something About Me That She Loves” (which I liked, but not enough to call it a favorite), and “Dancing the Night Away”, with my favorite being “Leaving Louisiana”
---John Vairin (firstname.lastname@example.org)