I always get excited over a new Elektra LP.
It's a great label.
Casey Kelly I had not heard of before and there is very little on him online. Luckily though he is a moderately successful songwriter (and author on songwriting) and has a website.
He gives us a succinct biography there which gives some background:
I grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. While attending LSU I became one of the founding members of the legendary local rock band, the Greek Fountains.
After the "Fountains" split up, I moved to NYC where I worked as a session musician and singer, a songwriter, an arranger, a music publisher, a record producer and a record company executive.
I moved on to tour with Tom Rush, playing guitar, harmonica, and piano. I then went to L.A. where I signed a recording deal with producer Joe Wissert who took me to Warner Brothers Records. After releasing a single at Warner Brothers Records I moved on to A&M Records and formed the Luziana Band which was recorded by Jim Hilton.
My next label deal was at Elektra Records where I worked with producer Richard Sanford Orshoff, recording two more nationally acclaimed LP's, "Casey Kelly" and "For Sale". I toured extensively promoting my records, opening shows and performing with virtually every popular music act of the time from the mega-hit group America to Frank Zappa.
These days I tour and perform my songs in the duo "Kelly-Ellis" with Grammy Award Winning singer, Leslie Ellis.
Whew! It's been a crazy ride but I've loved every minute of it and I ain't done yet!
He wrote "Anyone Who Isn't Me Tonight" for Kenny Rogers and Dottie West (#2 Country, 1978) , "Soon" for Tanya Tucker (#2 Country, 1993), "Somewhere Down the Line" for T G Shepherd (#3 Country, 1984), "The Cowboy Rides Away" for George Strait (#5 Country, 1985), “That Road Not Taken” for Joe Diffie (#40 Country, 1995), "Only Game in Town" for America and "Resign Yourself" for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (#5 Country, 1985).
He has also co-authored with David Hodge, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Art of Songwriting" (2011).
Back in 1972 his career was not all that certain.
But he was in the right place, at the right time with the right pedigree to take advantage of some great music.
The early 70s was a great time for American music. In the wake of Bob Dylan, The Band, a chart dominant Creedence Clearwater Revival, and, dare I say it, a resurgent and more "down home" Elvis Presley there was an interest in American music and all things Americana.
The times had changed though. The world was a different place. Introspection and thoughtfulness was the order of the day. The slogans of the 60s were a little gentler and individual morality and personal responsibility seemed to be taking over from communal action. The singer songwriter music was everywhere and country and folk influences had seeped into rock. The end result was something that was both new and distinctly old. Call it country, country rock or rather, an early version of what we now call alt country.
The country influences are unmistakeable but there are other influences in there also and not just straight rock ones. The musicians are taking from all forms of American music both new and old. If you listen to this album today, and if the record was recorded today, the market it would be plugged to is the "alt country" market.
Kelly's songwriting is strong and this is a good country rock with an emphasis on the singer songwriter style with more than a little experimentation and splashes of folk rock, psych, baroque pop and MOR. He isn't the strongest singer but his voice is endearing and, more importantly, suits what he writes and that's all that counts.
Also, the music isn't slick and it is a little ragged around the edges which is exactly how I like it.
All songs by Casey Kelly.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Silver Meteor – A great start on a country rock song that could pass for a Gram Parsons tune. In fact Sneaky Pete Kleinow from Flying Burrito Brothers is on Steel Guitar.
Making Believe – An about face. A sad, melancholy and beautiful tune with
MORtendencies which sounds a little like something Val Stoecklein (of Blue Things) would write.
- Run Away – a gentle swamp psych vibe runs through this as if Neil Young and Tony Joe White had been crossed. Nice.
- Poor Boy – a big up tempo song.
- For Miss Julie – Nice and emotive. This sounds like something I know but I can't put my finger on it.
- A Good Love Is Like A Good Song – I like an accordion on a song and this gentle mid tempo old time country-ish song has some nice accordion (and fiddle) work.
- You Can't Get There From Here – A country rock song with emphasis on the rockier aspects. Jim Messina from Poco on guitar.
Escaping Reality – Another song that leans to the
MORbut it is beautiful. It's like something Jimmy Buffet would be doing in a few years.
- Resign Yourself – This is great and reminds me a lot of Ray Davies (Kinks) faux country from "Muswell Hillbillies" (1972).
- Visiting An Old Friend – another gentle and gorgeous song.
This album is not without flaws but it is an unjustly forgotten and, perhaps a minor masterpiece … I'm keeping it.
A Good Love Is Like A Good Song
You Can't Get There From Here
Visiting An Old Friend
- Guitar – Casey Kelly, Bass – Leland Sklar, Drums – Russell Kunkel, Keyboards – Craig Doerge, Producer, Engineer – Richard Sanford Orshoff.
- Dean Sciarra, owner of Classic Music Vault says "The masters for some albums simply don’t exist anymore, so you have to use vinyl as the source on occasion. Luckily, I’m pretty good at converting vinyl so that 99 percent of people can’t tell. I remastered the first LP by Casey Kelly (Elektra, 1972), which was the worst pressing ever. I did such a good job that when Casey heard it, he cried and said that not only did it sound great but that he hadn’t heard it sound that good since he was in the studio when he recorded it. Hearing an artist say that means the world to me. That’s why I do what I do. By the way: I’m pretty sure that Elektra used my master when they finally released the first Casey Kelly album. So vinyl as a source doesn’t have to be a bad thing". http://www.goldminemag.com/article/hunt-long-lost-albums-can-lead-classic-music-vault