30 Years Ago: Travis Tritt Releases ‘Country Club’
Thirty years ago today, on Feb. 22, 1990, Travis Tritt released his debut album, Country Club.
The record was a long time coming: According to Country Music: The Encyclopedia, the Marietta, Ga., native signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Nashville in 1987 for three singles. The first tune under that contract, "Country Club" — a song inspired by the songwriters' real-life experience with snobbery at an exclusive club — was released in 1989 and became a Top 10 country hit.
Tritt's hit drew attention from at least one influential name: "Charlie Daniels was the first person to sort of take me under his wing when I came into this business 15 years ago," Tritt said in 2004. "Charlie hired me sight unseen to open shows for him when all I had out was that first single."
The live experience certainly helped Tritt develop his own voice and self-confidence. When Country Club the album finally emerged in 1990, it felt fully formed, with music that combined old-school outlaw grit and slicker pop sounds. "Son of the New South" possessed an outsider vibe with menacing pedal steel, while the harmony-laden "Sign of the Times" is a throwback to early '80s sounds; "Drift Off to Dream" and "Help Me Hold On," meanwhile, are meditative ballads.
Entertainment Weekly, for one, noted the album's diversity, writing that the album "arrives with an affable sound somewhere between the good ol’ boy honky-tonk of Joe Stampley (on Tritt’s "Country Club") and the churning Southern rock of Hank Williams Jr. (on "Put Some Drive in Your Country")."
Tritt's approach was enormously commercially successful. Of the album's five singles, four reached the Top 10: "I'm Gonna Be Somebody" "Drift Off to Dream" the title track, and "Help Me Hold On." The latter song, which Tritt co-wrote, hit No. 1. The album itself reached No. 3 on the country charts, and No. 70 on the Billboard Top 200, and established Tritt as the kind of artist destined to have a long and storied career.
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