Tompall and the Glaser Brothers - Lovin’ Her Was Easier/After All These Years

Real Gone Music

Tompall and the Glaser Brothers were not named Vocal Group of the Decade in 1970 frivolously. They stood head and shoulders above all around them and still remain unquestionably the finest vocal group that has ever graced country music. But more than just being a highly skilled and distinctive vocal group, they were talented songwriters, astute at recognising burgeoning talent (Jimmy Buffett, John Hartford, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Craft, Kinky Friedman, etc were all Glaser proteges), song publishers, studio owners and being mavericks were at the forefront of the 1970s outlaw movement. Early in their careers they worked with Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, but it was their close harmony recordings made for MGM between 1965 and 1973 that elevated them into an international act with a sizeable UK following. But at the peak of their success the act fell apart due to an excessive workload and petty squabbling. Tompall, Chuck and Jim all pursued solo careers with varying degrees of success, but it certainly wasn’t the same.

Quitting while you’re on top automatically creates a mystique and an aura, and the Glasers weren’t long in becoming elevated to immortality. Dedicated fans made them gods and built a reputation that surely would have frightened them off, even had they any desire to come back. But some five years after the split the whispers started and fans awaited in fear and trepidation for the return, half not wanting them to go through with it, thinking it may serve only to shatter the illusion. Would they sing as well as they did before? In 1978, they got back together again, resuming their recording career on Elektra and chalking up a number two country hit with Kristofferson’s Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) in 1981. The comeback album, named after the hit single, was the permanent and irrefutable proof that their loyal fans’ dreams and illusions about the Glasers had been triumphantly vindicated. They came back and however low-key they wanted it to be, they’d lost not a speck of greatness.

That comeback album, and its follow-up, 1982’s AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, have been reissued on CD in this excellent 2on1 package. The first album featured mainly older songs, reinforcing Tompall’s own passion for old-school country with superb renditions of such oldies as A Mansion On The Hill, Busted, Just One Time and The Last Thing On My Mind. There’s also an excellent version of Jimmy Payne’s world-weary Feelin’ The Weight Of My Chains and Troy Seals’ Tryin’ To Outrun The Wind.

The second album focussed on newer songs with the title song, Mickey Newbury’s I Still Love You (After All These Years) being perfect for Tompall’s careworn lead and the brothers’ exquisite harmonies. Happy Hour Blues a Tompall original, maintain his world weariness, whilst Maria Consuela echoes Marty Robbins gunfighter ballads and Gallagher & Lyle’s Stay Young could’ve been a hit single, as Don Williams proved a couple of years later, hitting number one on the country charts. But the reunion was to be short-lived as they split again the following year acrimoniously and that was the end of Tompall and the Glaser Brothers, though both Jim and Tompall returned to their respective solo careers. The magic of their music remains only a sweet remembrance, rather than the standard by which good music can be measured. But at the very least we have their recordings and this pair of albums captured the Glasers at their very best.