Shania Twain recorded two of the biggest selling country albums of the 1990s. One was the 1997 blockbuster, Come On Over. But its predecessor, 1995's The Woman In Me, set the blueprint for her successful signature sound of country mixed with pop/rock. To celebrate that record’s 25th anniversary, a special three disc Diamond Edition box set has been released by Mercury Nashville/UMG Recordings, Inc.
What's in the Box Set?
The box set consists of the remastered album, a disc of live and remixed tracks, and a CD titled The Woman In Me-Shania Vocal Mix. The latter is made up of early takes of the record, before overdubs and new musical elements were added. The discs are housed in a 40-page hardback book featuring liner notes from Twain, a 3,000 word essay from music/pop culture journalist Eve Barlow, and photos of Twain by a group of photographers including John and Bo Derek.
Shortly after the release of her self-titled debut album in 1993, Twain met Robert John “Mutt” Lange, known for producing rock albums by AC/DC, Def Leppard, The Cars, and Foreigner. He also co-wrote such hits as Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car," Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and Michael Bolton’s “Said I Loved you…But I Lied.”
Twain and Lange decided to work together, co-writing 10 of the 12 tracks on her second album, The Woman In Me. After collaborating on the songs by phone, they finally met in person at Nashville’s Fan Fair in June 1993. They were married six months later.
The Woman In Me would go on to spend 29 weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard country album chart, and win the 1996 Grammy for Country Album of the Year.
Four tracks from the disc reached number one on the U.S. Billboard country singles chart: the anthemic “Any Man of Mine," the roadhouse boogie influenced "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here!," "You Win My Love," written solely by Lange; and the very catchy rockabilly tune, "No One Needs to Know."
"Any Man Of Mine" Music Video
The Woman In Me sounds like it could be recorded today and still be relevant. Some of the female characters in the songs are self-assured in their romantic relationships, while others may be questioning them.
As Twain told the CBC’s Tom Power in September 2020, “It was very important that I wanted to particularly show contrast and that a woman can be confident, you know, assured in her opinions in her point of view, and still be vulnerable like any human being.”
Thus, in “Any Man of Mine,” the narrator relates how “Any man of mine’ll say it fits just right/When last year’s dress is a little too tight.” Or in the catchy, piano-based “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?,” the singer shows her inner strength by telling her cheating lover, “So the next time you’re lonely don’t call on me/Try the operator, maybe she’ll be free.”
Another woman regrets the end of her marriage in the ballad, “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)," saying, “If he could only find that feeling again/If we could only change the way the story ends.”
"Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" Music Video
It’s interesting to note the rock and pop touches in the songs. “Any Man of Mine” features a Queen “We Will Rock You” style drum beat. “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!” contains a ZZ Top influenced guitar riff. “No One Needs To Know”, also part of the “Twister” movie soundtrack, includes a brief harmonica/harp solo from Terry McMillan similar to one you’d hear from Stevie Wonder.
"No One Needs To Know" Music Video
The short, minute and a half, a capella track “God Bless the Child" (not the Billie Holiday song) is a hymn that Twain wrote following the tragic 1987 car accident which killed her parents. It’s a touching way to end the album, with a passionate Twain performance.
The Live & Remixed CD clocks in at approximately 44 minutes. Five of the seven live tracks were recorded in December 2019 during Twain’s concerts at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater. Twain is in fine singing voice, especially considering she’s had two open-throat surgeries due to dysphonia, a rare complication from Lyme disease. Dysphonia affects a person’s ability to sing and speak.
The live songs are made up of tunes from The Woman In Me, except for a bit of the Come On Over cut, “You’ve Got a Way,” taken from a 1998 Dallas Reunion Arena concert. “You Win My Love” definitely rocks more than the studio version, with Twain’s vocals mixed in the center and the guitars in both left and right channels. Had this been written in the early '80s, I could see Pat Benatar covering it. “No One Needs To Know” is all acoustic. “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” is as lively as the studio recording. Actually, it would make for a fine, slower reggae version, if it was interpreted that way. “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!” showcases Twain’s tight band, with drummer Elijah Wood providing the driving backbeat.
As for the remixes, Lange’s mix of “You Win My Love” is geared for the pop/rock audience, with barely a hint of country. A snare drum sound like the one found in the Fine Young Cannibals 1989 hit “She Drives Me Crazy” is heard prominently throughout the song. Lange’s mix for “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here!” has a noticeable psychedelic synthesizer part during the chorus, and the ZZ Top type guitar influence has been replaced by a more generic rock tone. Two single mix, band versions of “God Bless The Child” last a couple of minutes longer than The Women In Me track, and feature Twain along with an adult and children’s gospel choir. New lyrics have been added which tell the story of children suffering from drug abuse, poverty, and homelessness.
The Woman In Me-Shania Vocal Mix gives context to the 1995 album, and how much was changed or not changed before the actual disc was released. It’s quite listenable on its own. Recorded nearly a year before the finished CD, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of overdubs evident. Additionally, the song lineup is different with the ballads “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)” and “The Woman In Me (Needs The Man In You)” as the opening tracks. “God Bless The Child” is not part of this Vocal Mix disc.
“No One Needs To Know” doesn’t require the heavy production, and it shows here. There are no harmony or background vocals in the tune. “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” includes a double bass prominent in the mix. In this case, it would have been fun to hear a group like The Jordanaires adding accompanying vocals to the track. On the other hand, “Raining On Our Love” sounds great with just Twain singing solo. Twain has said that The Carpenters were a big musical influence on her, and there’s a bit of Karen Carpenter in Twain’s vocal.
Current stars Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, and Lauren Alaina have all been influenced by Twain’s mixture of country with pop and rock. The Woman In Me: Diamond Edition shows how she was ahead of her time and pioneered a new style musically.
The Woman In Me remastered album, audio-wise, sounds very good. The Live & Remixed disc showcases how Twain’s second album works well in a live setting. You also have a glimpse of a couple of her songs being marketed for the pop music dance club scene. Four versions of “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here” in this disc, two live and two unique mixes, gets a little repetitive, though. The Shania Vocal Mix CD offers a stripped-down edition of The Woman In Me, and makes for pleasant listening.
Since Twain’s videos also played a role in her success, perhaps a DVD or Blu-ray of the eight promo clips made for the album could have been included in the set.
The Woman In Me: Diamond Edition is also available in a two-CD configuration, with the remastered album available in LP and Limited-Edition color variant LP versions
The Woman In Me shines brightly in this Diamond Edition box set. Recommended.
"The Woman In Me" Music Video
© 2020 Marshall Fish