When Was The Last Time You Played This Album?

Singer / Songwriter

Bonnie Raitt “Nick of Time”

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!

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Déjà Vu”

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.


James Taylor “That’s Why I’m Here”

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.


Joni Mitchell “Court and Spark”

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.


Dave Mason “Let it Flow”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#149 in the Series) is Dave Mason, Let it Flow.

Dave Mason has put out a big ol’ chunk of good music.  From the days he spent with Traffic through a long solo career.  His latest album, 26 letters and 12 Notes is as good as anything he’s done.  It’s too bad radio didn’t go near it.  He commented from the stage at a recent show I saw, It’s like ‘I’m Selling Encyclopedias to them.’

Let it Flow was released in 1977.  Yup, that’s 33 years ago folks!

It contained his biggest hit. ‘We Just Disagree.’  I think it’s one of the best divorce songs ever written.

Memorable moments here include So High (Rock Me Baby and Roll Me Away), Let it Go, Let it Flow, Spend Your Life With Me and Mystic Traveler,.

I was surprised to read that Let it Flow only hit #37 on the Billboard Top Album Charts. I would have bet big bucks that it would have been much higher than that.

Three singles charted. We Just Disagree peaked at 12.  I would have thought that was higher too. Let It Go, Let it Flow peaked at 45. So High hit to 89.

It was produced by big time producer Ron Nevison.  (Bad Company, UFO, Zep Physical Graffiti, Starship, Heart, Chicago.

As alluded to earlier, I had a chance to see Dave Mason recently, He was outstanding.  He played a tiny 400 seat venue.   He played everything from Feeling All Right, 40,000 Headman, Only You Know and I Know, Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave (a real highlight!) World in Changes (opening song). He encored with Dear Mr. Fantasy and All Along the Watchtower.

If you have the chance to see Mr. Mason, Go. . He’s highly recommended.  But be for warned.  You might not recognize him. He looks REALLY different. As you can see below.


John Prine “Bruised Orange”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#139 in The Series) is John Prine, Bruised Orange.

John Prine’s debut album, called simply John Prine is considered his masterpiece, and rightly so.

It’s quite the feat when you think that he wrote Sam Stone, Illegal Smile, Donald and Lydia, Angel From Montgomery, Paradise, Six O’Clock News, You’re Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore and of course, Hello in There ALL before he was 25.

Looking at that track list you can see why that album is held in such high regard.  I am, however, going to feature Bruised Orange.

I’m not sure why this album was always so high on my list of Prine classics.  Part of it might be that it was new when I got my first guitar and I learned how to play many basic chords strumming to what’s here.

The songs here that I enjoyed attacking and killing on that old Ovation were Fish and Whistle, Aw Heck, Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone and of course, That’s the Way That the World Goes ‘Round.

Some great players made their way to the great Chicago Recording Company studio in 1978 to help with the sound.  Jethro Burns (Homer and Jethro), John Burns (Flyer), Tom Radtke (Bill Quateman), Corky Siegel (Siegel-Schwall), Mike Utley (Coral Reefer Band), Jackson Browne, Bonnie Koloc, and many, many more.

It was produced by Steve Goodman.

It reached #116 on the Billboard Album Charts.

Here’s a great version of That’s the Way That the World Goes Down (aka Happy Enchilada).  By John, at his kitchen table.

I’m following it up with a song not on Bruised Orange, but a great song none the less. It’s just something I want you to hear.  It’s called In Spite of Ourselves.  It’s hilarious!!  Please check it out. It begins with John telling a story about a movie he made where he and Billy Bob Thorton played brothers.  Their father was Andy Griffith. How ’bout that!


Paul Simon “Hearts and Bones”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#135) is Paul Simon, Hearts and Bones.

Hearts and Bones could be considered the ‘Lost Paul Simon Album.”  It wasn’t Simon and Garfunkel. It wasn’t Still Crazy, It wasn’t Graceland.  It was between all those classics and never received it’s proper due.  Well not until now that is!

I myself hadn’t even played this for quite sometime.  Then I was on facebook and saw a video that James Eves III had placed by Al Di Meola.  In the thread beneath it, there was a comment by Richard Kent Burton who claimed that Di Meola had ‘the most pick control’ of anyone he could think of.

When I though, Al Di Meola and pick control, I could only think of one solo.  That would be the one that he does in the Paul Simon song, Allergies. It’s nothing BUT pick control!!

So I was going to add that to the thread but I quickly decided to be selfish and add it to my blog instead!

Hearts and Bones was recorded right after the period in which Simon and Garfunkel held their huge Central Park reunion concert.  In fact, I recently read that this was originally going to be a Simon and Garfunkel album called, Think Too Much.

It ended up being a Paul Simon record and Think Too Much became one of many great songs on the album.

The aforementioned Allergies is my standout track.  Others are the title cut, Hearts and Bones, where Paul tossed in a great line about he and future wife describing their vacation travels referring to themselves as ‘One and One Half Wandering Jews.’

When Numbers Get Serious, Song About The Moon, and Rene and Georgette Magrette With Their Dog After the War are all outstanding.

But there is one last song that needs mention.  A truly, truly masterful song called The Late Great Johnny Ace. There have been many, but this might be the best song written in honor of John Lennon.  It was written my Paul Simon with a haunting ending piece that was added by Phillip Glass.  This is a superb track.  A must hear.

Al Di Meola was not the only big name musician brought in to fill the sound.

Steve Gadd (drums), Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers from Chic (bass and guitar), Sid McGinnis (guitar), Richard Tee (piano), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Greg Phillinganes (keys) and Micheal Boddicker (synthesizer…. curve ball..OK, not THAT Michael Boddicker.)

Hearts and Bones was released in 1983.

It was produced by Simon, Roy Halee, Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker.

It peaked at #35 on the Billboard Top Album Charts.

I can’t believe that I could nor find ANY videos for Allergies not Late Great Johnny Ace. So here’s the title track.


Nils Lofgren “Nils”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#128 in the Series) is Nils Lofgren, Nils.

Nils is the sixth solo album by guitarist Nils Logren, and and the fourth studio release.

Nils came to prominence as a member of Crazy Horse and before that, Grin.

He’s been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band for over 25 years.

Nils was my favorite for a number of reasons but mainly for No Mercy. No Mercy is a boxing song written from the viewpoint of the victorious boxer as he feels sorrow for his soon to be defeated opponent.  It’s quite the unique song.

But there indeed many great pieces of music here.  Others include I’ll Cry Tomorrow, and a great ballad in Shine Silently. Randy Newman’s Baltimore is another gem.

Nils was produced by Bob Ezrin. It was released in 1979. It peaked at #54 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

Short and Sweet today.  It gives you more time to go listen to music!

Here’s a live, 1991 version of  No Mercy.


Harry Chapin “Sniper and other Love Songs”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#127 in the Series) is Harry Chapin, Sniper and other Love Songs.

We’re going back to the Singer/Songwriter genre today for a 1972 release by master storyteller, Harry Chapin.

One of the few artists that I’ve always been interested in, but never had a chance to see perform live.  As many of you know, Harry’s been gone for years so that chance has been passed.

There are other Chapin albums that I could have chosen that would have given me much more, and much more popular material to cover.  But I chose this album for one song, Sniper.

Quite possibly the most powerful song I’ve ever heard in all my life.  Nearly ten minutes in length, Sniper is a bone chilling narrative of the Texas clock tower shootings from 1966.

He not only gives us a near pay by play of the shootings, (Yes, names were changed) but also looks at what my have caused this famous flip-out.   Everything from the shooter’s (who’s name is also never mentioned) relationship with his mother to his need for celebrity.

Harry Chapin would often end his concerts with this song.  So you’d get a nice hour and a half of humorous story telling full of laughs and cheer, and then he’d send you leaving with this on your mind.  You had to love Harry Chapin.

Harry Chapin was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, known for his extensive work in helping world hunger.  He was on his way to a giving a free concert in East Meadow, NY when he suffered what doctors thought was a heart attack, slowed on the Long Island Expressway and was rear ended by a semitrailer.  His VW Rabbit burst into flames.  He was extracted by other drivers, including the semi driver.  He died that evening.

Harry’s brother was singer Tom Chapin.  Tom was a child actor who starred as ‘Jack’ in the original version of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Jack was the leader of the civil tribe.

A foundation was started to continue Harry Chapin’s fight against world hunger work.

For more information on the Harry Chapin Foundation please visit HarryChapinFoundation.org.

Here’s a live performance of Harry Chapin doing Sniper from one of the original episodes of Soundstage. Recorded in Chicago in 1975.  Watch it. Powerful stuff.

I think the heaviest part of the song is the final chorus.  ‘I Am, I Was, and now, I will Be! I will Be!!

Click on the album title for the full text of Lyrics.


Rosanne Cash “Rhythm and Romance”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#122 in the Series) is Rosanne Cash, “Rhythm and Romance.”

“Rhythm and Romance” is one of my absolute favorite albums of all time.   I of course knew about Rosanne Cash before this album but had never really known much about her music.  This changed all of that.  My respect for her and her music is as high as for any other musician of which I know.

This album did quite well on the country charts. But it was probably the least country sounding album she had done to that point.  She definitely did not have a country band on this one.

Her band included Toto’s David Hungate on bass, Willie Weeks on bass, CBS Orchestra’s Anton Fig on drums, Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards and everybody’s Waddy Wachtel on guitars.

The 1985 production was mainly written by Rosanne herself.  She did get a little help from Vince Gill on ‘Never Alone.’

She also included two songs written by others.  Ben Tench and Tom Petty wrote ‘Never Be You’ while John Hiatt wrote the rocking ‘Pink Bedroom.’  Then husband Rodney Crowell co-wrote with her one of the best songs here, ‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me.’

Rosanne wrote the remaining six tracks.  Best of that bunch included ‘Hold On, Second to No One’ and ‘My Old Man.’ He of course was Johnny Cash.

If you’ve never owned a Rosanne Cash album is indeed a great place to start.  There’s not a bad note of music on the disc.  She has a library of great music.  Here follow up, “Kings Record Shop” was a HUGE seller.  “Interiors” and “The Wheel” were a move more into a singer/songwriter type of sound. “The List” was flat out, one of the best albums of 2009.

“Rhythm and Romance” reached #1 on the Billboard Country Charts and #101 on the Top 200 Charts.

‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ reached #1 on the Billboard Country charts and #16 on the Adult Contemporary Charts.

‘Never Be You’ hit the top of the country charts while ‘Second To No One’ peaked at #5.

‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ earned Rosanne a “Best Female Country Vocal Performance” Grammy.

Check out the rockin’ Pink Bedroom video followed by a great live version of ‘I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me’ also featuring Rodney Crowell.