Entertainment Weekly - 10/15/93, p.77
"...[COUNTRY SEATS] only occasionally veers beyond populist anthems and cuddly love songs, but there's new maturity in Randy Owen's vocals..." - Rating: B-
Alabama: Jeff Cook (vocals, guitar, fiddle); Randy Owen (vocals, guitar); Teddy Gentry (vocals, bass); Mark Herndon (vocals, drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: John Willis (acoustic & electric guitars, talking guitar, electric sitar); Josh Leo (acoustic & electric guitars); Bernie Leadon, Biff Watson, Mark Casstevens, Bill Hullet (acoustic guitar); George Marinelli, Dan Huff, Brent Rowan (electric guitar); Bernie Leadon (banjo); Sam Bush (mandolin, fiddle); Marcus Hummon, Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson (harmonica); Jim Horn, Jim Nelson (saxophone); Charles Rose (trombone); Bill Cuomo (piano, Hammond B-3 organ, keyboards); Carl Marsh (synthesizer); Larry Paxton (bass); Craig Krampf (drums, percussion); Sanctuary Choir, Young Musicians Choir (background vocals).
Producers: Larry Michael Lee, Alabama, Teddy Gentry, Josh Leo.
Engineers include: Jeff Geidt, Ed Turner, Timothy Dobson.
Recorded at Emerald Sound, Nashville, Tennessee and Cook Sound, Fort Payne,
Personnel: Jeff Cook (vocals, guitar, fiddle); Theodore Gentry (vocals, bass guitar); Mark Herndon (vocals, drums, percussion); Randy Owen (vocals); John Willis (guitar, electric guitar, sitar); Josh Leo (guitar, electric guitar); Bernie Leadon (guitar, banjo); Mark Casstevens, Biff Watson (guitar); Dann Huff, George Marinelli, Brent Rowan (electric guitar); Sam Bush (mandolin, fiddle); Carl Marsh (strings); Kirk Johnson, Marcus Hummon (harmonica); Jim Horn (saxophone); Bill Cuomo (piano, organ, keyboards); Craig Krampf (drums, percussion).
Unknown Contributor Roles: Bill Hullett; Charles Rose.
By the time CHEAP SEATS was released, Alabama was in decline. The new wave of country artists such as Garth Brooks and Clint Black was taking over the airwaves, and Randy Owens and the boys were on the wane. However, this 1993 release stands up the musical standards of Alabama's previous work; its merging of C&W, gospel and pop-rock is just as consistent and clever as ever.
In general, CHEAP SEATS mixes Southern-fried rock tunes such as "Still Goin' Strong" and the title track "The Cheap Seats," with delicate ballads including the sorrowful "Katy Brought My Guitar Back Today" and the introspective "That Feeling." As usual, themes of American pride, the plight of the archetypal rural man, love, and love's loss, weave their way through this CD's 11 tracks. A valiant effort, CHEAP SEATS is a commendable swan song.