It's Only Rock & Roll (Waylon Jennings album)

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It's Only Rock & Roll
Studio album by Waylon Jennings
Released March 1983
Genre Country
Outlaw country
Label RCA Victor
Producer Waylon Jennings, Randy Scruggs
Waylon Jennings chronology
It's Only Rock & Roll
Take It to the Limit
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars [1]

It's Only Rock & Roll is an album by Waylon Jennings, released on RCA Victor in 1983.


Jennings, who had been a mainstay on at the top of the country charts for most of the previous decade, began a commercial slide with It's Only Rock & Roll. The previous two years had been difficult for the singer, having nearly filed for bankruptcy after going broke and suffering from a seven year addiction to cocaine, and the fatigue is evident on It's Only Rock & Roll; it relies heavily on past glories. As if out of ideas, the singer includes a meandering medley of his biggest hits (running nearly six minutes) to end the album. In addition, he revisits his 1967 #12 hit single "Mental Revenge." The nostalgic theme is also apparent on the comical "Living Legends (A Dyin' Breed)," a narration that pokes fun at several of Waylon's peers, including Charlie Daniels, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, and David Allan Coe. Tellingly, Jennings confesses in the song, "To tell you the truth, I ain't been feeling real hot lately myself." In the audio version of his autobiography Waylon, the singer remembered, "It got to where my music started to show the strain. I was doin' bad records and missing shows due to laryngitis, not picking up the guitar unless I was gettin' paid, and in general just not caring."

Despite the state of Jennings' personal life at the time, the tone of It's Only Rock & Roll is predominately upbeat. The LP, which Jennings produced with Randy Scruggs, did produce on #1 hit: a cover of Little Richard's rock and roll classic "Lucille (You Won't Do Your Daddy's Will)," his twelfth #1 since 1974. Jennings would not top the singles chart again until 1987. The single "Breakin' Down" also made the Top 10. Jennings contributed two songs for the LP: "Let Her Do the Walking," which he wrote himself, and the reflective "No Middle Ground," which he composed with Gary Scruggs. Songwriter Rodney Crowell, who had written Jennings' #1 song "I Ain't Living Long Like This" and had become one of the singer's favorite writers, has two songwriting credits, including the title track (which is reminiscent in theme and structure to the Rolling Stones song of the same name) and the ballad "Angel Eyes," which Waylon may have recorded as a tribute to his young son Shooter. Jennings' wife Jessi Colter, Marcia Beverly, and Jerry Gropp provide harmony vocals on the LP.


It's Only Rock & Roll peaked at #10 on the Billboard country albums chart, Jennings' worst showing since Honky Tonk Heroes in 1973. Jim Worbois of AllMusic: "While many labels were raiding their vaults to create "medley" records of artists no longer signed with them (as Capitol did with The Beatles and Beach Boys and Fantasy did with Creedence), Jennings seems to have done it to himself. There are a couple nice songs on here, but it's not one of his best."

Track listing[edit]

  1. "It's Only Rock & Roll" (Rodney Crowell)
  2. "Living Legends" (Jennings)
  3. "Breakin' Down" (Joe Rainey)
  4. "Let Her Do the Walking" (Jennings)
  5. "Mental Revenge" (Mel Tillis)
  6. "Lucille (You Won't Do Your Daddy's Will)" (Albert Collins, Little Richard)
  7. "Angel Eyes" (Crowell)
  8. "No Middle Ground" (Jennings, Gary Scruggs)
  9. "Love's Legalities" (Michael Smotherman)
  10. Medley:
  1. "I'm a Ramblin' Man" (Ray Pennington)
  2. "This Time" (Jennings)
  3. "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand" (Jennings)
  4. "Clyde" (J. J. Cale)
  5. "Good Hearted Woman" (Jennings, Willie Nelson)
  6. "Ladies Love Outlaws" (Lee Clayton)
  7. "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" (Chips Moman, Bobby Emmons)
  8. "I've Always Been Crazy" (Jennings)

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 10
U.S. Billboard 200 109