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.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#154 in the Series) is Merle Haggard, I Am What I Am.
I was REAL late coming to the Merle Haggard appreciation society. I’ve loved traditional country for many years. But for some reason Merle slid though the cracks for me.
That changed due to his classic song, Sing Me Back Home. About five years ago I started noticing all these artist I really respected had covered it. The Grateful Dead, Flying Burrito Brothers, Heartfield, Gram Parsons and Keith Richards together, The Everly Brothers, etc etc. I had to look in on it. Then I started checking out all these old albums and wow. I sure missed quite a bit.
Instead of featuring one of those classics albums, I’m going to go right to the end of the list. His most current. I Am What I Am was one of my favorite albums of 2009.
There are absolutely some wonderful songs on this album. I’m going to attach two videos. I challenge you to listen to them and tell me they are not a couple of great songs. Merle fans know this already. The challenge is more aimed at those that are thinking, What the hell is he doing!
This also gives me a chance to bitch at country radio. They didn’t touch this work. But they continue to pollute the airways to lazy pop music that they pawn off as country just because as an afterthought a fiddle or pedal steel was added.
Merle hasn’t won a country award since 1982. He hasn’t had a #1 hit since 1987. Thanks country radio.
Give these two a listen. I’ve Seen It Go Away and Pretty When It’s New.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#153 in the Series) is Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust.
When you’re in a crappy mood there is nothing better than popping on a good ol’ Nick Lowe disc!
We already did Rockpile about four months ago. Rockpile was, of course, the joint effort of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. This was Nick on his own. Well supposedly it was. However, even though it’s a Nick Lowe album, the band lineup is the same as the Rockpile album. Nick on bass, Dave Edmunds on guitar, Billy Bremmer on guitar and Terry Williams on drums. Elvis Costello added harp to American Squirm.
There are 11 tracks totaling 33 minutes of music here. Or as one of my friends says, Get to the point, get it done and get onto the next song!’
The first song was probably the song that Nick Lowe was most identified by. Cruel to be Kind. A great ditty as we would say. It was written by Nick and here’s a name you might have forgotten, Ian Gomm!
You may have also heard such songs as Cracking Up, Big Kick, Plain Scrap, Born Fighter and of course, Switchboard Susan.
Labour of Lust was released in 1979 and produced by Nick Lowe.
The album did not chart in the USA even though Cruel to be Kind hit number 12 on the Billboard Singles Chart.
Here’s Cruel to be Kind from Live at Daryl’s Place. I followed it with the original promotional video. Look for ‘then wife’ the lovely Carlene Carter! I’ve never done two versions of a song before. I’ll make an exception for a pop masterpiece.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#152 in the Series) is Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark.
Court and Spark was the album that took Joni Mitchell from a pretty darn good selling artist to a star. It was a monster album.
It reached #2 on the Billboard Album charts but had long time staying power on rock radio. It fit in perfectly with the singer/songwriter period which was very hot in 1974.
Sure this was three or four years after she had written Woodstock, but it’s Court and Spark more often than not when people think Joni Mitchell.
This album contains songs such as Help Me, Free Man in Paris, Car on a Hill, Raised on Robbery and the fun, Twisted.
As you know, I always like to say who played on an album. Especially when I have names to type such as Tom Scott, Davis Crosby, Graham Nash, Larry Carlton, Robbie Robertson, Jose Feliciano and even …Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong!
They all appeared on the album.
Court and Spark was produced by Joni Mitchell.
Rolling Stone Magazine called it the 111th Best Album on their All-Time Top 500.
Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#151 in the Series) is The Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out at Night.
This was a pretty big deal when I was in 8th grade. I always remember walking across the street because my friend Joe Moncada bought a couple new albums. To this day I remember it was this and Curtis Mayfield, Super Fly.
They Only Come Out at Night was a HUGE album for Edgar Winter and his band in 1972.
It contained two well known songs. They were the instrumental Frankenstein and Free Ride.
The Edgar Winter Group was quite the band. Many of the names were or became quite well known. Rick Derringer and Ronnie Montrose were on guitar. Dan Hartman was one of the main vocalists.
Rick Derringer had a well known solo career punctuated by the hit, Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo. Hoochie Koo hit #1 the next year and featured Edgar on keyboards. (Not to mention it also had Joe Walsh on guitar and Joe Vitale on drums.)
Ronnie Montrose would of course, start the band Montrose with then named, Sam Hagar as his front man. He then would start performing under his name Ronnie Montrose. This is where we first saw drummer Steve Smith.
Dan Hartman was quite the different story. He went into the disco world and did quite well for him self. He had a big hit in 1978 with a song called Instant Replay. (It sucked)
But his biggest hit would be in 1984 song called I Can Dream About You. It hit to #6 on the Billboard Singles Chart. It was featured in the film Streets of Fire. It actually didn’t suck.
They Only Come Out at Night was produced by Rick Derringer and also was featured a young up and coming technical director named Bill Szymczyk. He went on to produce such acts like The Eagles, James Gang and The Who.
They Only Come Out at Night peaked at #3 on the Billboard Album chart.
Frankenstein was a #1 hit. (One of few instrumental #1 hits.)
Free Ride peaked at #14 (One of many songs with vocal to peak at #14)
Check out this great extended live video for Frankenstein. It’s follow by Free Ride.