When Was The Last Time You Played This Album?

Posts tagged “Heartsfield

Merle Haggard “I Am What I Am”

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.

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Paul McCartney “Tug of War”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#140 in the Series) is Paul McCartney, Tug of War.

I had not purchased a new Paul McCartney album in years when Tug of War was released in 1982. I hadn’t even thought about it.  Then my friend Phil Lucafo asked me if I heard the new McCartney album.  He highly recommended it.  So on his suggestion, I grabbed it.

I’m glad he did.  This was some of the best music that Paul had done in many moons.

It was produced by former George Martin and it appears that he added nice motivation.

I was just looking back.  Rolling Stone gave it 5 starts, Allmusic gave it 4.5.  So it looks like many agreed.

Highlight, well there’s the title cut, Ballroom Dancing, Take It Away (with Ringo Starr on drums), the great ballad Someone Who Cares and of course Paul’s tribute to John Lennon, Here Today.

There’s also a duet with Carl Perkins called Get It.

Tug of War featured Denny Laine on guitar, Steve Gadd on drums, Andy MacKay on lyricon and Stanley Clarke on drums.

It was #1 on the Billboard Album charts for three weeks,

It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.


Gram Parsons “GP”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#134 in the Series) is Gram Parson’s, GP.

I was shocked to see that I hadn’t featured Gram Parson’s as of yet.  He’s one of my all-time favorites.   I did feature him as part of The Byrds, Sweethearts of the Rodeo era.

GP was Gram’s first of two studio albums.  Grievous Angel was the second and could have been as easily featured as GP since they are both outstanding pieces of music.

GP was home for some of Gram’s most wonderful moments.  He was in excellent voice in this era.  Give a listen to some of the slower moments of the disc including ‘A Song For You, Streets of Baltimore, She’ or ‘The New Soft Shoe.’ Gram never sounded better.

There are some nice up tempo songs here as well. Those would include ‘Still Feeling Blue, We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning’ and ‘Big Mouth Blues.’

Gram will always hold a very special place for me in the landscape of American music.  He was one of, if not the, first to bring country music to the rock and roll field.  He would play albums of the early country greats to the hippies in LA until they ‘Got it.’  Without his influence we may never had heard the likes of bands like his own ‘Flying Burrito Brothers’ or ‘New Riders of the Purple Sage, Poco, Heartsfield, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, etc etc.’

GP was produced by Blind Faith bassist Rick Grech. It was released in 1973.

Unfortunately, Gram would leave us by the end of that year.

Listen to the masterpiece of She or Song For You (Including a short interview with Gram) or the up tempo, Still Feeling Blue.


Heartsfield “The Wonder of it All”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (A Milestone! #100 in The Series…hold the applause please, thank you, thank you.) is Heartsfield, “The Wonder Of It All.”

Today we are going to celebrate the music of Heartsfield.

Well anyone that knows me knew that a Heartsfield album was coming sooner or later. I decided awhile back to make it entry #100.

Heartsfield was one of, if not the main reason for my love of music and for me making a career in music for what were many years and coming from many different angles. The members remain some of my closest friends for well over 30 some years now. They’ve been a major influence to much of the music I did, and still listen too now.

I’m sure everyone expected me to feature the first album from 1973. Considered ‘the classic,’ and an important piece of music that helped continue the beginnings of the country-rock sound.

That would be too predictable. So I decided to feature the fourth album, ‘Collector’s Item,’ the 1977 release that via Columbia Records.

But, I then remembered that that album did not contain anything written by J.C. Hartsfield, so I looked elsewhere.

That’s brings us to “The Wonder Of It All.” Mercury Records, 1974

“The Wonder Of It All” is a great representation of the ‘Heartsfield sound.’ The title track that starts the disc is actually a full length version of a previous version that ended the first album. It’s a lovely ballad written and sang by J.C. It features a great instrumental middle section that actually led to a write up in the jazz magazine, ‘Down Beat.’

Song two is Perry Jordan’s ‘House of Living,’ a lively harmonious track that more times than not was a show opener.

‘Pass Me By’ is Phil Lucafo. Phil usually writes the rockers. He slowed it down here.

‘Shine On’ was written by guitarist/vocalist Freddie Dobbs and drummer Artie Baldacci. I’ve heard many people refer to this as the best piece of music that Heartsfield every created. You could say that about a number of tracks. You wouldn’t be wrong if you said it about this one. Artie adds some sweet mellotron too.

Side two opens with Freddie’s ‘Eight Hours Time.’ A great train song!!

‘I’ve Just Fallen’ was the only track in which Artie Baldacci sang lead.

If ‘Shine On’ isn’t the best track, then Perry’s ‘Racin’ the Sun’ just might be! What starts as a ballad turns into a wonderfully stretched out, two guitar playoff between ‘Freddie and Phil.’

We end our journey in Mississippi with J.C.’s ‘Lafayette County.’ A straight forward country fiddle tune that puts a bow on the package nicely!

Filling out the band was Greg ‘Ziggy’ Biela on bass / vocals.

Terrible cover, but a cool album!!! I spent hours playing this LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD or Mp3 over the years. I ain’t stoppin’ now!!!