Check my other entries from background on McGuinn if you don't know who he is.
You should though!
This was McGuinn's third solo album after leaving (or disbanding) The Byrds.
It is titled "Roger McGuinn & Band"
McGuinn's two first solo albums (though not bad) were at the time met only mildly by both the critics and the public. The rational I suppose was to get in a producer, in this case John Boylan (Ricky Nelson, The Association, The Dillards, Pure Prairie League, Commander Cody) and a band he could work off, record an album and then tour to promote the same.
In a spurt of democratic fervour (well the American bicentenary was only a year away) McGuinn allowed everyone to have a say in the song writing and didn't twiddle any producers knobs.
Most of the rock pundits out there seem to suggest that this is the problem, as does McGuinn himself. He would later said: " "A band should be a benevolent dictatorship. Democracy is a great form of government, but it doesn't work in rock & roll."
Philosophical statement aside (and it sounds reasonable), he would know better than me but time passes and I suspect maybe he forgot about what commercial pressures the label brought down on him, as they do on all acts. They wanted a return on their investment. After the poor sales of his first two albums (#137 and #92) I'm not sure if he had that much bargaining power.
Ironically the front cover would give the impression that McGuinn is the man in control which is not the case on.
This is a record label trying to make money … don't let McGuinn produce again, ship in a producer, make him emulate the sounds of the day (whether he wants to or not), get him to get a band (who are technically proficient) but who haven't necessarily had time to "gel" or develop organically with the front man, have them all contribute new songs, re-record some old Byrds songs, and then pump out an album.
That's dangerous with an established group but foolhardy in a group newly formed and untested.
Sure, musicians do it all the time when they get session musicians in the studio the difference here is they are actively contributing to the songs.
The sound was slicked up a little and the beautiful raggedy edges are gone.
The market was right for this type of music in 1975 but there was already so many people doing it. People who had been inspired in the first place by the Byrds later country sounds.
It failed, in the market.
But contrary to popular wisdom the results aren't half bad.
The reason … Roger McGuinn.
McGuinn is a joy (his voice is expressive and emotive) and the band do play well, probably because they come from a similar country rock heritage.
They fall short of greatness but this is better than many of it's similar themed and styled competitors.
The lesson here is, that due to McGuinn, everything is going to be at the very least, good..
Tracks (best in italics)
- Somebody Loves You – (Stephen A. Love, Allen L. Kemp ) – This is actually quite a good song. It is very 1970s country rock but quite good.
- Knockin' on Heaven's Door – (Bob Dylan) – Dylan's magnificent (and well covered) alt country ballad fro the film "Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid" from 1973. It's not the first time McGuinn has done Dylan. He knows and understands him. A great cover. Some slick chorusing but it all works.
- Bull Dog – (Richard Bowden) – a good country rock stomper
- Painted Lady – (Greg Attaway, David Lovelace) – Originally done by Cold Steel on their 1973 debut album this sounds like it could have been a Byrds song with nice country harmonies.
- Lover of the Bayou – (Jacques Levy, Roger McGuinn) – from the Byrds self titled album from 1970. Perhaps not as good as the original version by McGuinn sound perfectly Dylanesque here.
- Lisa – (Roger McGuinn) – Country and country rocks fascination with Jamaican rhythms …. it would be fun with five pina coladas otherwise not.
- Circle Song – (David Lovelace) – not memorable but not too bad.
- So Long – (Richard Bowden) – so so
- Easy Does It – (Roger McGuinn) – nice, but not memorable and moving into Jesse Colin Young territory.
- Born to Rock and Roll – (Roger McGuinn) – from the Byrds self titled album from 1973. A rock n roll anthem and well done and more of a stomper than the original.
Underrated and undervalued …. I'm keeping it.
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Live later with Gene Clark
Lover of the Bayou
Born to Rock and Roll – (Roger McGuinn) –
- Stephen A. Love (Stone Canyon Band) on bass guitar, and ex-Cold Steel members Richard Bowden on guitar, David Lovelace on keyboards and Greg Attaway on drums.
- Cold Steel released one album which looks like a Sneaky Pete Kleinow (Flying Burrito Brothers) solo album (with his face and name on the front) but it's not it's a group project.