Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#160 in the Series) is Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time.
In 1988, Bonnie Raitt was one of many performers that would continuously pound out good release after good release but never really popped! We’ve seen a ton of these acts. ‘Boy is she good. I’m surprised that she’s not better known.’ There was the odd Me and the Boys or Angel From Montgomery, but the lady from California still wasn’t a household name. Heck she wasn’t as well-known as her stage star father John Raitt.
Then she met Don Was. Don was a producer that had done well with the great band Was (Not Was) and had produced a few other acts as well. Be his career was quite a bit like Bonnie’s. Ok, but not spectacular.
They met when Don was putting together a compilation of Disney songs for an album. The session went well and Raitt and Was decided to continue in to another project that would become, Nick of Time. It was if the title track decribed both of their feeling about meeting the other at this point in their careers.
Nick of Time ended up selling 5 million copies and garnered Ms. Raitt three Grammy Awards. It was ranked #229 on Rolling Stone Magazines Top 500 Albums of All Time. It won Grammy’s for Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
The biggest hit on Top 40 radio was Have a Heart. The biggest hit on rock radio was John Hiatt’s Thing Called Love. The best song on the album was the title cut, Nick of Time.
Guest artists a plenty were on the album. To name some, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens from Was (Not Was), Paulinho Da Costa, Ricky Fataar, Herbie Hancock and Kim Wilson.
Don Was continued to produce Bonnie on her next album, Luck of the Draw. It sold seven million copies.
Here’s some Bonnie Videos. Nick of Time, Have a Heart and lastly a live version of Thing Called Love from an old Farm Aid show complete with John Hiatt!
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#159 in the Series) is the Kinks, State of Confusion.
We’re running with the Kinks today. I wonder what they’re running away from on that cover anyway. I guess it was the graffiti, again! They also used a graffiti themed cover on the previous release, Give the People What They Want.
State of Confusion was more later day Kinks. This release was an album that I really liked. They were still putting out good music until the end. Ray Davies continues to get it done to this day. His album from a few years ago, Working Man’s Café, is brilliant.
But I digress. State of Confusion actually had the highest charting single in Kinks history. Yes, that is correct. Come Dancing peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart. It tied, Tired of Waiting at that spot. I would have lost a boatload of money if you asked me that one. I would have guessed Lola, All Day and All of the Night or You Really Got Me.
Back during this era, 1983, I used to see many Chicago Blackhawk games at the old barn, aka Chicago Stadium. Then captain, Denis Savard was known for his creative skating. Evertime he would do his Spino-o-rama, the organist would quickly play out Come Dancing. I caught it. I don’t know who else did. But that wasn’t as obscure as when this player named Craig Ludwig came to town. I saw him get beat up once on the ice and then our creative minded organist played Todd Rundgren’s Bang On the Drum All Day. Ludwig, get it?
Once again I digress… So back to State of Confusion. Amongst the other great tracks..we have the title cut, Definte Maybe, Don’t Forget to Dance and Heart of Gold.
The kinks at this time were Ray and his brother Dave Davies on guitars, Mick Avory on drums, Jim Rodford, bass and Ian Gibbons, keys.
Ray Davies wrote and produced the complete effort.
It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#158 in the Series) Is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Déjà Vu.
I was just sharing the story on Facebook about remembering buying Déjà Vu back in 1970. I purchased it at the famous Chicagoland record chain called Hegewisch Records. I was spending the summer at a cousin’s in Calumet City. We road our bikes to Hegewisch and quickly we were in the store. I plopped down my $3.49 and we were off. All their LPs were $3.49 back then. I still remember the sticker on the shrink wrap! On the way back I wiped out on the bike and the album went flying. Fear not, it was OK. I still remember the fear as that brown square cover hit the ground, hard.
Déjà vu was the first album by CSNY, however, it was not their first recording. That was the single ‘Ohio’ recorded a little earlier. Ohio never did appear on an album before it appeared on the greatest hits package called So Far.
Adding Neil Young to a band with Steven Stills was not a huge stretch since they had played together for years in The Buffalo Springfield. In fact, the opening number Stills’ Carry On contains lyrics from The Buffalo Springfield’s song, Question.
Teach Your Children features a fine pedal steel part by Jerry Garcia.
Almost Cut My Hair is David Crosby’s first addition to the disc. I remember discussing this album when I was a freshman in high school. I told my friend that I didn’t like this song all that much. I distinctly remember him saying ‘If you don’t like that song, then you don’t like rock and roll.’ I think he was wrong.
Neil Young joins with his first solo writing credit on Déjà vu with his classic Helpless.
Side one ends with the Joni Mitchell penned classic, Woodstock.
We open side two with the title cut written by David Crosby, But then again, haven’t we all been here before? Listen for John Sebastian on harp.
Graham Nash makes his first lead vocal appearance with Our House. A song that would remain in his, and their live shows for years.
4 + 20 was always one of my favorite Steven Stills songs.
Country Girl (Young) and Everybody I Love You (Stills, Young) end our journey.
As the front cover told us Greg Reeves, bass and Dallas Taylor drums filled out the band. This would be the highlights of both of their careers.
Déjà vu was a #1 album on the Billboard Album Chart.
Woodstock peaked at #11 on the Billboard Singles Chart
Teach Your Children hit up to #16 and while Out House made it up to #30.
Here’s a live Carry On from ’74. It’s in two parts. It’s followed by Teach Your Children, 4 + 20 and Deja Vu.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#157 in the Series) is James Taylor, That’s Why I’m Here.
“Come on everyone, come on… let’s go! James is recording a new album. We all have to help him out!
Was that the clarion call throughout Los Angeles in 1985 when James Taylor decided to record for the first time in years,who knows? ButI’m guessing it was close. It seems like every hot musician from within 100 miles played on this album.
So before I get into the rest of album, let me make a list of who answered that call.
Here’s who makes an appearance on That’s Why I’m Here.
Don Henley, Leland Sklar, Peter Asher, Randy + Michael Brecker , Russ Kunkel, Tony Levin, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Billy Payne, Deniece Williams, Rory Dodd, Clifford Carter, Greg ’Fingers’ Taylor, Jimmy Maelen, Airto and David Sanborn.
I wonder is songwriters feel the need to write exceptionally well when they know the heavyweights are right outside the studio door?
If James Taylor felt that weight then he certainly delivered. There are some absolute gems on this one.
Some of the best on the disc are the title cut, That’s Why I’m Here, the great ballad, A Song for You Far Away,and Only a Dream in Rio. There’s also one of the few songs I know about a pig, Mona.
James also does a fine rendition of his brother Livingston’s Going Around One More Time.
He also adds a couple of nice covers, Burt Bacharach/Hal David’s …thru Gene Pitney ..(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance and Buddy Holly’s Everyday.
I remember seeing James Taylor at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago in 1991. It was an interesting crowd. One half were old hippies, the other half, yuppies. Safe to say I wasn’t one of the yuppies.
It also was the best sound I ever heard at a concert. Sitting directly in front of the mixing board didn’t hurt!
That’s Why I’m here was produced by JT along with Peter Asher and Frank Filipetti.
It reached #34 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart.
Here’s a few live cuts followed by Liberty Valance.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#156 in the Series) is The Decemberists, The Crane Wife.
The Decemberists are one of the more current bands that I’ve written up here on Cool Album of the Day. They have been a band since 2001 and actually began getting known about 2005. This coinciding with their move to a major label.
They hail from Portland, Oregon. The band’s name refers to The Decembrists revolt in Imperial Russian. Many, including band leader Colin Meloy view the 1825 revolt as a communist revolution.
The Crane Wife album was inspired by a Japanese folk tale. And you thought Rock and Rollers were shallow people!
This was the band’s first album for Capitol Records. It received a nice media push that included national appearances on shows like Late Night with David Letterman.
The Crane Wife, released in 2006, is a good old fashioned concept album. I wish more bands would bring us back to that era. The Decemberists have actually made a career out of that. God bless ‘em!
Some of the highlights include The Crane Wife, Pt 3 (Which is actually the opening number), The Perfect Crime, Sons and Daughters and of course the superb, O’ Valencia!
The album peaked at #35 on the Billboard Album Charts.
The Perfect Crime #2 did well on the Billboard Dance Charts peaking at #3.
Here’s their rock solid performance of O’ Valencia on the Letterman Show. Note to Dave: You need more room for acts this size! (Dig the vibes! ) I actually hadn’t listened to this song for sometime. While watching this video I’m reminded just how great a song this is. PLUS…As an added fun bonus.. Check out The Decemberists jammin’ on Heart’s Crazy on You. Check it out.