Okay, this isn’t actually a new find as I have had it awhile and had already graduated to the “keep” side of the ledger but I’m an O’Keefe kick … and, this is a cleaner copy than the one I had.
Check out other posts on this blog for detail on Danny O’Keefe. The guy is underappreciated bordering on criminality.
Well, when I say underappreciated, not quite. Musicians and those willing to do some digging appreciate him.
As is stated on his website, “Danny's songs have been recorded by a Who's Who of artists over the last thirty plus years: Elvis Presley, Cab Calloway, Charlie Rich, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Earl Klugh, Chris Hillman, Conway Twitty, Leon Russell, Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Lee Lewis and Milt Hinton. But that's just who recorded "Good Time Charlie." Other credits include Alison Krauss ("Never Got Off The Ground"), Jimmy Buffett ("Souvenirs"), Nickel Creek ("When You Come Back Down"), Judy Collins ("Angel Spread Your Wings"), Donny Hathaway ("Magdalena"), John Denver ("Along for the Ride"), Gary Stewart ("Quits"), Sheena Easton ("Next to You"), Jesse Colin Young ("Night School"), Chris Smither ("Steel Guitar "), Ute Lemper ("You Look Just Like A Girl Again") and Alan Jackson ("Anywhere on Earth You Are"). "Well, Well, Well," which Danny wrote with Bob Dylan, has been recorded by Ben Harper, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bonnie Raitt and David Lindley”. http://www.dannyokeefe.com/
There is no big noting going on here just an example of the high regard his songs are held in.
I can wax lyrical over Danny O’Keefe but the joy is in the music.
And he was a round at the right time.
Despite having the majority of his work in the 1970s he is a product of the 1960s, that golden decade in rock music when all musical styles collided and anything was possible.
Folky singer-songwriter Americana with country, blues, jazz, and blue eyed soul overtones O’Keefe crosses over many American traditions, and, not for posturing reasons, but because they suit his music best. He can best express his ideas and stories in those forms of American music. At his best these narratives are complemented by music which evokes the emotions of his protagonists as well as the environment that surrounds them. (that sounds a little academic but I mean, the music, creates the mood).
This is not an easy, especially when you are trying to wrap everything up in a catchy tune.
O'Keefe in his observational Americana is the (upper) west coast spiritual cousin to Kris Kristofferson (the south), Jim Croce (the north), Paul Simon (the east) and many other troubadours of the road.
This was O’Keefe’s breakthrough album riding on the back of the hit single “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”. The chart breakthrough was never followed up. The album and the single, were his only dents on the charts but the royalties from covers (especial of “Charlie”) and a small devoted following have kept him in the music business.
Here he has the backing of magnificent session musicians made up of southerners (mainly Memphis American Sound Studio's House Band) supplemented by some New Yorkers (which look to be Atlantic records alumni … Signpost records was a subsidiary of Atlantic) slumming it on background vocals.
The music is evocative and sums up a place and time beautifully. It is personal music but it, also, anticipates the 70s with all its troubles, change and political “isms”. It's tales are still relevant today.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues – the song first appeared on O’Keefe’s 1971 self-titled debut album, and then he recorded another version for this album. There are many great versions of this song but I’ve always been partial to Elvis’ version from 1974 (which is, actually, the first version I ever heard). This is, perhaps, one of the greatest of all singer-songwriter songs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Time_Charlie%27s_Got_the_Blues http://www.songfacts.com/blog/playingmysong/danny_o_keefe_-_good_time_charlie_s_got_the_blues_/
- Shooting Star – pure observation with some great lines, "the morning is waiting for electra but electra is mourning for the night".
- The Question (Obviously) – A bouncy jaunt and a country-ish brag. As if Jim Croce had gone rural. And, not dissimilar from The Kinks on their magnificent, "Muswell Hillbillies". Great fun.
- Honky Tonkin' – (Hank Williams) – Hank’s #14 country hit from 1948 and as bona fide classic. The version here doesn't match the original (I mean how could it) but it is a good , suitably twangy version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honky_Tonkin%27
- The Road – Jackson Browne would later cover on his best-selling album “Running on Empty” (1977). Quite a beautiful song, and quite haunting.
- Grease It – another country rock blues stomper, though a gentle stomper with a touch of Jerry Lee Lewis vocals.
- An American Dream – a electric and quite heavy singer-songwriter song with psych overtones about the war and "an American dream".
- Louie The Hook Vs. The Preacher – a less exuberant variation on a Jerry Reed song. Fun.
- The Valentine Pieces – a art piece as if 70s era Tom Waits was crossed with soft rock.
- I'm Sober Now – According to the liner notes, the song was "inspired by Clarence (Pinetop) Smith" who was an American boogie-woogie style blues pianist who died in 1929, aged 24. Quite good and catchy.
- Roseland Taxi Dancer – a song about a "granny" who was a taxi dancer in times past. A taxi dancer is a paid dance partner in a partner dance. Something Redbone or Jim Kweskin would do though here, the "old" sounds ar not front and centre.
- I Know You Really Love Me – a short ragtime-ish tune. Excellent
Wonderful … a minor masterpiece. I'm keeping it.
1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #9 Hot 100
1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #5 Adult Contemporary
1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #63 Country
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
The Question (Obviously)
An American Dream
Louie The Hook Vs. The Preacher
The Valentine Pieces
I'm Sober Now
- Personnel : Danny O'Keefe – vocals, guitar / Hayword Bishop – drums, percussion / David Brigati (The Rascals) – background vocals / Eddie Brigati (The Young Rascals) – background vocals / Gene Chrisman – drums / Johnny Christopher (He co-wrote "Always on My Mind" with Mark James) – guitar / Bobby Emmons – organ / Shane Keister – piano / Bobby Wood – piano, electric piano / Reggie Young – guitar (legend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggie_Young) / Leo LeBlanc – steel guitar / Mike Leech – bass / Irwin "Marky" Markowitz – trumpet / Howard McNatt – violin / Phil Olivella – clarinet / Ahmet Ertegün – producer.
- The liner notes note, "All guitar solos are by Danny O'Keefe except on "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues", The Question(Obviously), and the middle section of An American Dream which are by Reggie Young".
- The album was recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis with additional recording at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York City.
Back sleeve picture: