Monday, March 10, 2014

Pure Prairie League - Pure Prairie League / Bustin Out (1972 us, excellent country rock, 2006 remaster edition)

Despite significant personnel changes, Pure Prairie League maintained itself as a successful country-rock band during the 1970s and early '80s, releasing ten albums and enjoying hits -- including "Amie" and "Let Me Love You Tonight" -- with different configurations of the group.

Pure Prairie League was formed in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Craig Fuller (born July 18, 1949, in Portsmouth, Ohio), singer/guitarist George Powell, bass player Jim Lanham, and drummer Tom McGrail, who gave the band its name, which was the name of a women's temperance group in the 1939 Errol Flynn movie Dodge City. Pure Prairie League built up a following in Ohio, playing around Cincinnati for a year before earning a record contract with RCA Victor. 

By that time, McGrail had left and been replaced by Jim Caughlin, though Billy Hinds had also drummed with the band for a time. Adding steel guitar player John David Call, the group went into the studio and recorded its self-titled debut album, which was released in March 1972 with a cover depicting a Western character named Luke, an illustration drawn by famed naturalist painter Norman Rockwell that had first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1927. Luke would turn up on all the band's subsequent album covers, giving them a distinctive visual conception.

Pure Prairie League did not sell well enough to reach the charts, and the group fragmented. Lanham, Caughlin, and Call left, and remaining members Fuller and Powell brought back Hinds, who in turn recruited a friend, keyboard player Michael Connor, to play on the second album, Bustin' Out, and subsequently become a full-fledged bandmember. Among the other session musicians on the album was David Bowie associate Mick Ronson, who played guitar and arranged the strings.
by William Ruhlmann

The songwriting team of Craig Fuller and George Powell was one of the finest in the business, and on Bustin' Out they made an album that is unequaled in country-rock. The songs are meditative portraits of relationships that aren't running smoothly but are still alive, and they sound autobiographical rather than something contrived to sell records. These tunes are presented with grace and unusual taste, the country guitars and vocal harmonies backed with astonishingly sympathetic string arrangements by Mick Ronson. Both lyrical and musical themes carry over from song to song -- "Falling in and Out of Love" and "Amie" are really two halves of one suite, and there are echoes of that suite throughout the rest of the album. 

Despite the extraordinary beauty and intelligence of the music on this album, it was not immediately successful, and the already troubled band broke up after it was released. Nevertheless, the influence of Bustin' Out was profound, and one song in particular became a staple for bar bands everywhere. RCA re-released "Amie" as a single more than two years after the album came out, and it was a Top 30 hit. The revival of interest in Pure Prairie League led RCA to re-sign the group, alas without Craig Fuller. That hit status also led to a rediscovery of the merits of the rest of Bustin' Out, which is acknowledged to be one of the artistic high points in country-rock history. 
by Richard Foss
Pure Prairie League 1972
1. Tears (Craig Fuller) - 2:41
2. Take It Before You Go (Fuller) - 4:04
3. You're Between Me (Fuller) - 5:35
4. Woman (Adam Taylor) - 3:40
5. Doc's Tune (George Powell) - 1:22
6. Country Song (T. P. Waterhouse) - 7:37
7. Harmony Song (Fuller) - 5:20
8. It's All On Me (Powell) - 2:30
Bustin' Out 1972
9. Jazzman (Ed Holstein) - 2:34
10.Angel No. 9 (Craig Fuller) - 4:55
11.Leave My Heart Alone (Powell) - 4:24
12.Early Morning Riser (Fuller) - 5:05
13.Falling In And Out Of Love (Fuller) - 2:12
14.Amie (Fuller) - 4:18
15.Boulder Skies (Fuller) - 4:01
16.Angel (Fuller) - 4:26
17.Call Me, Tell Me (Fuller) - 2:41

Pure Prairie League
*Craig Fuller - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*George Powell - Finger-Style Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Lanham - Bass Guitar, Background Vocals (Pure Prairie League LP)
*John David Call - Steel Guitar (Pure Prairie League LP)
*Jim Caughlan - Drums (Pure Prairie League LP)
*Billy Hinds - Drums (Bustin' Out LP)
*David Huchins- Guitar (Bustin' Out LP)
Additional Personnel
Pure Prairie League LP
*Hugh Mccracken - Guitar
*Barbara Merrick - Vocals
*Starr Smith - Vocals
*James Westermyer "Westy" - Vocals
Bustin' Out LP
*Dianne Brooks - Vocals, Background Vocals
*Steven Edney - Background Vocals
*Al "Brisco" Clark - Steel Guitar
*Michael Connor - Piano, Keyboards
*Bob Ringe - Percussion, Marimba
*James Rolleston - Bass
*Mick Ronson - Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals
*Michael Connor - Piano
*Gary Smith - Guitar

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Rita Coolidge - Delta Lady, The Anthology (1971-98 us, very tasty blend of after hours soft orchestrated folk country tunes, 2004 two disc set)

With the arrival of Delta Lady: The Rita Coolidge Anthology, one can only remark: what took so long? No other singer -- not Maria Muldaur, Bette Midler, Bonnie Bramlett, Carly Simon, or Linda Ronstadt -- more perfectly embodied the wide range of changes that popular music underwent from the late '60s through the mid-'80s, and continues to seek new means of expression today. 

This two-disc anthology on Hip-O offers the first complete portrait of this complex and multivalent talent on CD (though a box set would have been nice). Rita Coolidge scored her first chart hit with friend Donna Weiss' "Turn Around and Love You" in 1969. That song earned her a studio spot where she fell in with Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, and a huge cast of musicians. Being a background vocalist on Delaney & Bonnie's classic Accept No Substitute earned her a place on Russell and Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue and the rest is history, including a handful of chart hits and guest appearances that stagger the mind.

Coolidge's period with A&M reveals that Coolidge is a singer whose gift of empathy for a song is singular. Indeed, in virtually every song one not only hears her voice, but also feels its smoky, throaty, body-caressing languor in every verse. She wraps her entire mouth around her syllables because they come from the deep, fathomless well that holds the fire in the belly. Her great earthy depth does not rely on pyrotechnics, but on passion and expression, the wealth of which adds another dimension to even a miniscule pop song and sends it forth to the listener with the temperature of a hot spring. 

All the evidence one needs is found in her live reading of "Superstar" (yes, the tune that became a smash for the Carpenters), where one can hear something completely outside the hit version's sentimentality. Coolidge brings the hue of painful memory -- of lovemaking, of shared tenderness and longed-for passion -- into the grain of the song; in its place lies raw, swollen, melancholy need. In addition, her performances of Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know," Booker T. Jones and William Bell's "Born Under a Bad Sign," Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire," and Johnny Davenport's "Fever" are shot through with emotion that is equal parts physical and spiritual. And when it comes to expressing those intangible emotions that lie outside the margin of categorization, one need only to hear "The Lady's Not for Sale" (written by former husband Kris Kristofferson) to be moved outside the realm of one's experience and into that of the song. And Coolidge's country version of Eric Kaz's "Love Has No Pride" is nearly peerless in its white-out pathos and cavernous want (only Bonnie Raitt's comes close).

While the first disc is full of songs that represent "the Voice," with a few hits in the mix, disc two concentrates on the R&B and pop hits Coolidge garnered during the 1970s, such as her cover of "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher," "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (her biggest smash), Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone," and "Slow Dancer." But they are all here, from "One Fine Day" to "The Closer You Get" to Tom Snow's "You," and of course the John Barry/Tim Rice-penned "All Time High" from the James Bond flick Octopussy. But in these songs, too, there is a complete lack of artifice in her interpretations; she delivers each song honestly, from the belly bone and into the ether that goes beyond the microphone. In each and every case, it's the song that matters to Coolidge, not her own voice. 

If one goes to the later material, after the hits, and into the recent past with "Cherokee" and "The Way I Love You," where this set ends, the listener is the recipient of a voice that has, if it is even possible, gone even further into the mystery of song itself. Coolidge's maturity as a vocalist comes in allowing the song to move through her, not to spin it or rework its intent, but to allow it a hearing in the full light of its own day, in its own complexity, in its own world. 

That she has been able to effortlessly move from the spirit of one song to another, regardless of genre or production, is a rare gift; that she can give listeners the wellspring of her own unclassifiable wildness in her performances -- naked, unbowed, and filled with grit, grace, and mystery -- is a small miracle. With its wonderful packaging featuring many photographs and excellent liner notes by Scott Schneider and the artist, Delta Lady goes far beyond the boundary of a "for fans only" compilation. Indeed, it demands a complete reconsideration of the wealth and necessity of Rita Coolidge's contribution as an artist and as an influence on modern popular music -- a contribution that will continue, no doubt, to mystify and delight.
by Thom Jurek
Disc 1
1. Turn Around and Love You (Donna Weiss) - 02:22
2. Superstar (Leon Russell, Bonnie Bramlett) - 04:56
3. That Man Is My Weakness (Donna Weiss, Craig Doerge) - 03:53
4. Born Under a Bad Sign (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) - 04:16
5. Mud Island (Donna Weiss, Mary Unobsky) - 04:28
6. I Believe in You (Neil Young) - 03:11
7. Family Full of Soul (Marc Benno) - 03:06
8. Nice Feelin' (Marc Benno) - 05:28
9. Only You Know and I Know (Dave Mason) - 03:37
10.Fever (John Davenport, Eddie Cooley) - 03:27
11.Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen) - 05:41
12.The Lady's Not for Sale (Kris Kristofferson, Cathy Pugh) - 04:11
13.A Song I'd Like to Sing (feat. Kris Kristofferson) (Kris Kristofferson) - 04:01
14.Loving Arms (feat. Kris Kristofferson) (Tom Jans) - 03:44
15.Love Has No Pride (Tom Jans) - 03:53
16.Now Your Baby Is a Lady (Bob Morrison) - 02:39
17.Born to Love Me (Donna Weiss, Jackie DeShannon) - 03:41
18.I Wanted It All (Jackie DeShannon, John Bettis) - 03:05
19.Late Again (Kris Kristofferson) - 04:11
20.Am I Blue? (Grant Clarke, Harry Akst) - 04:39 
Disc 2
1. (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher (Paul Smith, Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, Billy Davis) - 04:01
2. The Way You Do the Things You Do (William Robinson, Robert Rogers) - 03:37
3. We're All Alone (Boz Scaggs) - 03:39
4. You (Tom Snow) - 03:14
5. Love Me Again (David Lasley, Allee Willis) - 03:39
6. Slow Dancer (Boz Scaggs, George Daly) - 04:01
7. Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Kris Kristofferson) - 02:22
8. One Fine Day (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 04:01
9. I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love (Carole Bayer Sager, Peter Allen) - 03:24
10.Something 'Bout You Baby I Like (feat. Glen Campbell) (Richard Supa) - 02:43
11.Fool That I Am (Carole Bayer Sager, Bruce Roberts) - 03:08
12.Basic Lady (Allen Toussaint) - 03:06
13.The Closer You Get (James P. Pennington, Mark Gray) - 04:24
14.Only You (Vince Clarke) - 03:16
15.All Time High (Theme Song from Octopussy) (John Barry, Tim Rice) - 03:04
16.Love Came for Me (Lee Holdridge, Will Jennings) - 04:27
17.Something Said Love (Wood Newton, Jerry Michael) - 03:37
18.Survivor (Psiscilla Coolidge, Mary Unobsky, Danny Ironstone) - 03:31
19.Perfect Strangers (Love Theme from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, feat. Rupert Holmes) (Rupert Holmes) - 04:26
20.Cherokee (Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Coolidge, Laura Satterfield) - 05:58
21.The Way I Love You (Joe Lamont, Rick Chundacoff) - 03:52

*Rita Coolidge - Vocals
*Kris Kristoffeson - Vocals
*Glen Campbell - Vocals
*Rupert Holmes - Vocals
*Charlie Freeman - Guitar
*Tommy McClure - Bass
*Mike Utley - Keyboards
*Sammy Creason - Drums
*Booker T. Jones - Keyboards, Bass

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