Can you ever have enough McGuinn?
Perhaps, but I have not reached that point yet and I doubt I will as he is consistently interesting even when his (solo) albums don’t achieve greatness.
In relation his Thunderbyrd (1977) album I had this to say:
McGuinn is taking chances though here they seem to be based on commercial considerations. The experimentation of the first half of the 70s was gone and safe MOR adult country rock and singer songwriter were the norm. It comes as no surprise, then, that punk would break and make music edgy and challenging again.
The rule is, though, that you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
McGuinn has musical good taste based on a wide palette and musical brains in being able to distinguish between good and bad. If things don’t always go right for him musically, you can put that down to the almost inexplicable stew that a hit record, commercially and critically, is.
In the American music tradition he collaborated (as he had on many occasions) with lyricist Jacques Levy (who also collaborated with Dylan) but none of the songs here reach the heights of “Chestnut Mare”.
Even though “Peace on You” is his second solo album and there are three years and two albums between this album and that one what I have said remains essentially the same.
This album though is a better album though the critics would probably disagree with me. I’m not sure why that view exists. Perhaps McGuinn had set the bar too high early on?
In any event the covers are good and quirky (good on him for covering a Charlie Rich song) and the playing is sublime. There is a tendency to sami-ness (and slickness of the Crosby Stills Nash & Young kind) but generally the album is quite distinctive with a variety of McGuinn’s broad tastes on display.
You won’t go wrong putting this one.
This is quite relaxing and would be perfect rural driving music or sitting at home drinking music.
The cover art is a bit low fi and underwhelming.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Peace On You – (Charlie Rich) – whoa Roger does Charlie and takes it into Byrds territory….and not too bad at that
- Without You – (Roger McGuinn – Jacques Levy) – slick moody country rock which some may think is a little dull because it is quite familiar. It's a good mood piece that sounds like the Byrds though slicker.
- Going To The Country – (Donnie Dacus) – the start sounds like Glen Campbell’s "Try a Little Kindness" but then it turns into a straight country rock song. A good one though. Guitarist Dacus has played session with everyone and been in later incarnations of Chicago and Badfinger.
- (Please Not) One More Time – (Al Kooper) – just what you would think – a not too bad song by Al Kooper done well by Roger. Al would later record it on his “Act Like Nothing's Wrong” LP from 1976.
- Same Old Sound – (McGuinn) – a good old style Byrds like country folk rocker
- Do What You Want To Do – (Dacus) – slick country rock
- Together – (Jacques Levy – Roger McGuinn) – a dramatic song with a slight Latin tinge. Sounds like it could have come from hip musical theatre. Not at all bad.
- Better Change – (Dan Fogelberg) – some 70s guitar wankery here. Dan Fogelberg did this on his 1974 album “Souvenirs”.
- Gate Of Horn – (Jacques Levy – Roger McGuinn) – A song about an old time folk club from Chicago where McGuinn saw many of his heroes play. Quite vivid and a bit of a name check also. This is much like Arlo Guthrie or perhaps Jim Kweskin at his most contemporary.
- The Lady – (Jacques Levy – Roger McGuinn) – a nice update of the Byrd sound to the 70s.
Quite good even great at times. But, strangely, not memorable across the whole album. Still, there are enough good moments to make it worthwhile…. I'm keeping it.
Peace On You
Roger McGuinn – Peace on You
- Personnel : Roger McGuinn – vocals, guitar, bass / Dan Fogelberg – guitar, vocals / Al Kooper – guitar, piano, clavinet, arrangements, conductor / Jorge Calderón – vocals / Brian Russell – vocals / Tim Coulter – vocals / Donnie Dacus – guitar, vocals / Brenda Gordon – vocals / Paul "Harry" Harris – keyboards / Brooks Hunnicutt – vocals / Howard Kaylan – vocals / Russ Kunkel – drums, percussion / Al Perkins – steel guitar / Leland Sklar – bass / Paul Stallworth – vocals / Tommy Tedesco – flamenco guitar / Mark Volman – vocals (Mothers of Invention, Flo & Eddie) / William McLeish Smith – vocals / Gwendolyn Edwards – vocals / Lee Kiefer – arranger & conductor