Written and first recorded by Exile (1980).
Also recorded by Rita Coolidge (US #103/CAN #16 1981).
Hit versions by Don King (C&W #27 1981), Alabama (US #38/C&W #1 1983).
From the wiki: “‘The Closer You Get’ was written in 1980 by J.P. Pennington and Mark Gray (‘Kiss You All Over’, ‘Take Me Down‘), members of Exile. It was first recorded by Exile (which failed to gain much attention) in 1980. Singer Don King also recorded it and his version reached #27 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in October 1981. In addition, Rita Coolidge recorded the song for her 1981 album, Heartbreak Radio, and released her version as a single.”
“Alabama’s version differed substantially from King’s acoustic version. According to country music writer Tom Roland, the song featured ‘distorted guitars, a more elaborate arrangement and an altered vocal sound.’
“The end result was Alabama’s 10th #1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In addition, ‘The Closer You Get’ registered enough airplay on Top 40 radio stations to peak at #38 on the Billboard Hot 100.”
Rita Coolidge, “The Closer You Get” (1981):
Don King, “The Closer You Get” (1981):
Alabama, “The Closer You Get” (1983):