Check out my other comments for background on Chip.
He has his roots, schizophrenic style, in both 60s Brill building pop and country music.
You could assume that a native New Yorker from Yonkers could understandably be a Brill building alumni but the country music was something he picked up on himself from left field at an early age.
“I remember the night I heard “My Wild Irish Rose.” I remember thinking at the time—I was just seven or eight years old—that music was going to be my life. It was like the first time you fall in love, or the first time you hold a girl close. And then when I first heard country music—on a radio station in Wheeling, West Virginia—I had the same kind of feeling. Suddenly the direction was set for me. In high school I had a country band, one of the only country bands in the New York area. And during that time I was also exposed to the “race records” from down south, with the Alan Freed show. The combination between that and country music really guided my path in the music business”.
It is both of these genres that have affected his music without his music being either.
From country he took the ruminations, confessions and matter of fact looks at life, and from the Brill building (and its Tin Pan Alley traditions) he took the pop sense of using a catchy melody. The result are singer-songwriter songs, which occasionally rock, but are more often than not, slow or mid-tempo stream of consciousness songs with a catchy melody attached.
This was Chip’s second album and he is influenced (perhaps) even more than on the first by what is happening around him, though, “what is around” him he had been into for years.
What was happening musically in 1972, amongst other things: The country rock and singer-songwriter styles were breaking into the mainstream. It was around the time that Gram Parsons released his influential solo album (“GP”), the Eagles had their first big hit in the US (they had two Top 20 singles and their debut album went to #22 in 1972) and singer-songwriters were everywhere on the charts… fellow easterners and country influenced James Taylor and Arlo Guthrie, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell to name a few.
But, Chip’s music isn’t quite country rock because it doesn’t often “rock” and it isn’t quite inwardly solemn enough to be traditional singer-songwriter. It hops across both and seems to be mostly influenced by the observations and ruminations of Kristofferson and John Prine who had both just recently released their debut self-titled albums, Kris Kristofferson (1970) and John Prine (1971). Not surprisingly Chip refers to those albums as influential on his psyche (http://www.goldminemag.com/articles/10-albums-changed-chip-taylors-life)
Chip has adopted the same matter of fact-ness and autobiographical narratives and wedded them to an almost stream-of-consciousness style superimposed over catchy melodies with country flavourings (the record is full of lush harmonies (supplied by Elvis’ Jordanaires) with pedal steel licks in the background). Thematically, he has put himself into the familiar singer-songwriter’s shoes dwelling on sadness and failure, but importantly, he doesn’t wound easily like others in the genre. He comes across as a bloke just telling you his story with all the sadness, happiness, laughter and melancholy in any extended conversation.
And, it's all sung in the laid back naturally cool style of Kris Kristofferson or, especially, Willie Nelson.
Today, of course, this would fit perfectly into the alternative country, or the Americana movements.
Then, it just got missed.
Whether it be the whim of the public, music business mistakes, historical distractions or something else the album did not sell despite ticking all the right boxes.
Written by (unless indicated otherwise), produced by, arranged by Chip.
Tracks (best in italics)
- (I Want )The Real Thing – which puts down the insipid ‘cover’ versions of R&B songs by such pop singers as Pat Boone (poor Pat gets sledged a lot though, admittedly, his forte wasn't R&B covers). The song praises Elvis, Johnny Cash et al and is a good rollicking thing and a statement on musical taste. Perhaps that's why (Elvis' backing vocalists) The Jordanaires appear on the record.
I remember old Elvis when he forgot
To remember to forget
And when young Johnny Cash
Hadn't seen this side of Big River yet
And when sun was more than daylight
Shinin' on Memphis, Tennessee
And old Luther and Lewis and Perkins was pickin
And playin' them songs for me
- Son Of A Rotten Gambler – dedicated to his son and Chip’s own pastime of being a gambler. Another good song. Quite perceptive with a well placed emotional crescendo. Covered often including versions by Anne Murray and Melanie.
- I Read It In Rolling Stone – a country song with a gentle bounce like a lope on a sunny winter day. Probably the spiritual cousin to Dr Hook's "Cover of Rolling Stone"
- (The Coal Fields Of) Shickshinny – a song about Chip’s coal-mining grandfather. Nicely biographical.
- I Wasn't Born In Tennessee – There are (big) nods to and name checking of Merle Haggard and even some yodelling. A hoot of a song. Chip said on his facebook site, "So sad to here about Merle Haggard’s passing. He was always a big influence on my writing and singing. Back in 1973 I needed his permission to use an excerpt of his song ("Today I Started Loving You Again") for “I Wasn’t Born In Tennessee”. I had forgotten to ask him. If I didn’t get permission within a week I would have had to pull the song from the Last Chance album. I sent it special delivery to his attorney and within 3 days got a response, “Merle heard it .. Merle likes it… use it with his blessing!” https://www.facebook.com/40438231724/videos/10153701264806725/
- (The Likes Of) Louise – another gentle stroll (whistling included) of a country song.
- It's Still The Same – singer-songwriter
- 101 In Cash Box – a spoken intro, which is very funny (and very country), to a song about songs and the music business.
- Family Of One – gentle., low key and personal.
- Clean Your Own Tables – country themes, sounds and a great country song title.
- Last Chance – pedal steel and country sounds and a sing a long nature. Too low key to be rollicking fun but an apt last song.
Wonderful country singer-songwriter … I'm keeping it.
(I Want )The Real Thing
Son Of A Rotten Gambler
I Read It In Rolling Stone
(The Coal Fields Of) Shickshinny
I Wasn't Born In Tennessee
(The Likes Of) Louise
It's Still The Same
101 In Cash Box
Clean Your Own Tables
- Backing Vocals – The Jordanaires / Bass – Dave Kapell / Drums – Rick Nelson (not the famous one) / Electric Guitar [Lead], Acoustic Guitar – John Platania (Van Morrison regular guitarist) / Guitar [Lead Rhythm] – George Kiriakis / Keyboards – Joe Renda / Mandoguitar, Engineer – John Nagy (ex Earth Opera) / Mandolin – Dave Grisman (ex Earth Opera, Old & in the Way and any number of bluegrass bands) / Steel Guitar [Pedal] – Pete Drake (sessionman for Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Tammy Wynette, Joan Baez, Lynn Anderson and many others) / Recorded at Aengus Rec. Studios, Fayville, Mass.
- Rolling Stone acclaimed (apparently) Chip Taylor’s Last Chance as one of the best country albums of 1973.
- As a professional gambler, he was one of the foremost thoroughbred horse race handicappers on the East Coast. When Taylor turned his sights on the gaming tables, he quickly gained notoriety with his black jack prowess; finishing third in the World Black Jack Championship in Las Vegas. Taylor became one of the most feared card counters in the land and was ultimately banned from every casino in Atlantic City. In the late 80s, along with friend, partner, and renowned handicapper, Ernest Dahlman, he garnered enormous winnings through his horse racing exploits, specifically in the form of massive pick six scores (wagers where often times you get paid enormous sums for picking six winners in a row). These windfalls are known throughout the gambling world and well documented by the I.R.S. https://www.biography.com/people/chip-taylor-9542340