By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
All the People Are Talkin', from 1983, takes a break from Music City soldiers and instead uses Anderson's band, with the singer himself on rhythm guitar. It's his funniest, most gregarious record with a soprano sax embellishing its straight-down-the-line funk, the title track evokes the urbane Lee Dorsey of Night People even as it casts Anderson as the object of derision. (He also throws in some quick, exact asides at the end, just like a big-band singer.) As a whole, the record makes domesticity sound like a roaring good time, and just for kicks, Anderson becomes an environmentalist on Fred Carter's arty "An Occasional Eagle," a Christmas calendar of a song, flawlessly delivered.
1984's Eye of a Hurricane finds Anderson at what sounds like a slight remove from his fame and happiness. (He'd scored big with "Swingin' " off 1982's Wild and Blue, itself recently reissued.) Hurricane's title track stands as his most convincing white-soul move, and one of the best songs ever written about staying out late in Tampa. Meanwhile, "Take That Woman Away" traps him in a marriage with a woman disinclined to let him escape. "She ran out to the car/Revvin' up my old chainsaw," he complains, and ends up gibbering in the rubber room.
At mid-decade, Tokyo, Oklahoma takes the persona of this superficially straightforward singer as far as it can go. The title track gets Anderson on a plane after a series of expensive long-distance phone calls, and "Down in Tennessee" is dislocation at its most nuanced. Finally, Countrified, from '86, smells like a barrel of outtakes, although Tony Joe White's "Do You Have a Garter Belt" suggests that this great country artist kept his erotic politics under wraps just to please the family.