by Craig Shelburne
One of the best-sounding groups of ‘90s country, BlackHawk may surprise you with the acoustic approach of Just About Right: Live From Atlanta. Founding members Henry Paul and Dave Robbins reunited with their original backing band of Bobby Huff (percussion) and Dale Oliver (lead guitar) for the retrospective project, recorded at the club Eddie’s Attic.
The second song on the list is “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No,” the group’s biggest hit. Written by Mutt Lange (who was married to superstar Shania Twain at the time), the single spent two weeks at No. 2 in October 1995 on Billboard’s country radio chart and rose to No. 1 on the Canadian country chart.
Henry Paul tells CMT.com, “We were just coming off an extremely successful first album, and we were excited to be a part of the country music hit radio landscape. You never know going in whether you’ll stick or not, and we were enjoying the acceptance. We also knew we had a sophomore record to record and didn’t want to skip a beat and lose momentum at radio. ’I’m Not Strong Enough To Say No’ sounded like it had the potential for us to pick right back up where we left off. It turned out to be our second No. 1 single on the R&R chart and help push our second record to platinum status.”
Perhaps the most satisfying music video by the band, “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No” splices in dramatic scenes of staging a play, from rehearsals to opening night. However, the lead actor can’t hide his disappointment that his co-star isn’t returning his romantic feelings away from the spotlight.
Paul added, “I think the video on this song is a first-class effort. Everyone in the band looked great as well as the B-roll players. I’ve since seen the leading lady in some high-profile national commercials. Another magic moment in our run at country radio!”
The third founding member of the band, Van Stephenson, died in 2011 of skin cancer. Stephenson and Robbins wrote a bunch of Restless heart hits in the ‘80s before stepping into their BlackHawk roles. Henry Paul joined a rock band in the ‘70s called The Outlaws, although the scaled-back vibe of Just About Right: Live From Atlanta takes a different angle.
“I especially love the acoustic nature of this collection because it casts these songs in the true spirit in which they were written,” Paul said. Indeed, the three band members shared a writing credit on their very first hit in 1994, “Every Once in a While.”
“Making a live BlackHawk acoustic recording takes me back to when Henry, Van, and I started writing and singing together as a trio,” Robbins said. “It’s representative of BlackHawk in its purest form, having old friends join us on stage and tried-and-true fans makes everything ‘just about right’ on that special night in Atlanta.”