What was I discovering in SR as I was graduating from high school? Among other things, one of my inner-circle Hall of Fame LPs.
Noel Coppage Interviews Karla Bonoff
We learn that Bonoff decided to become a songwriter after watching Jackson Browne play at the Troubadour when they were both in their teens. Her breakthrough came when Linda Ronstadt recorded three of her songs on Hasten Down the Wind, including the righteous “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me.” Her connection to Ronstadt was no accident, though: Bonoff had been in Bryndle, a band with Andrew Gold, Kenny Edwards of the Stone Poneys, and Wendy Waldman, in the early 70s.
Coppage likes Wild Heart of the Young, Bonoff’s new LP, fairly well. He notes a bit of a Motown vibe and observes (as Casey did once) that “Personally,” what turned out to be her one hit, was one she didn’t write. “The melodies are catchy, sure-handed, and mostly pretty—but their straight-ahead simplicity leaves no room for the brief, off-the-wall detours her old melodies took, and those did lead, sometimes, through a garden of delight.”
This month’s reviewers are Chris Albertson, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Paul Kresh, Mark Peel, Peter Reilly, Steve Simels, and Joel Vance. Peel had come on board with the October 1981 issue.
Best of the Month
–Gordon Lightfoot, Shadows (NC) “His melodies are so natural-sounding you find yourself thinking there’s no excuse for their not having existed before.”
–Wynton Marsalis, S/T (CA) “…one of the most impressive debut albums I have ever heard, a grand entrance that will undoubtedly give jazz a healthy boost at a time when some of its best practitioners have strayed from the field.”
Recordings of Special Merit
–Irene Cara, Anyone Can See (PG) “…it stands above most (other albums) because of its success in reshaping the molds and moods of the past to suit current tastes.”
–Jean Knight and Premium, Keep It Comin’ (PG) “This is the sort of plain, old-fashioned r-&-b that’s played on bar jukeboxes before last call.”
–Graham Parker, Another Grey Area (SS) “…he sounds again as if he means what he’s saying.”
—Quartet (PK) “More new records like this one just might bring back the Jazz Age along with Jean Rhys’ novels.”
–Benny Carter, Opening Blues (CA)
–Chico Freeman, Destiny’s Dance (CA)
–Egberto Gismonti and Academica de Danças, Sanfona (CA)
–Bill Henderson, A Tribute to Johnny Mercer (CA)
–Jean-Luc Ponty, Mystical Adventures (MP)
Featured Rock/Pop Reviews
–Paul McCartney, Tug of War (MP) Peel is not a fan: “Much of the problem is over-production, excessive electronic tampering often disfigures the vocals and horns to no apparent purpose.”
–Marshall Crenshaw, S/T (SS) This review put Crenshaw on my radar. Even though I liked “Someday, Someway” quite a bit that summer, it’s not clear I would have bought the LP 18 months later without Simels’s clarion call. “But let us not pussyfoot: this is the strongest debut album by an American rocker I have ever been privileged to review. In the immortal words of Redd Foxx: ‘This is the Big One, Elizabeth.’”
–Toots and the Maytals, Knock Out! (MP) Second month in a row I’ve picked an issue with love for Toots. “At a time when too much reggae seems to slipping away into lazy, monotonous, knee-jerking jamming, this album is packed with catchy melodies and irrepressible rhythms.”
–Lou Reed, The Blue Mask (SS) “…Lou Reed has finally shed his masks (blue or otherwise) and made the album that most of us, even his biggest fans, had long lost hope of ever hearing.”
–Bunny Berigan, The Complete Bunny Berigan, Vol 1–1937 (JV) His name is new to me, but he was a bit of a legend. Played with Miller and Goodman, led his own band for a few years, severe alcoholic who died in 1942 at age 33. “Of all the figures in the Swing Era, he probably swung the hardest.”
Selected Other LPs Reviewed
–Adam and the Ants, Prince Charming (SS) “It’s somehow immensely reassuring to know that a good commercial gimmick can still compensate for utter lack of talent.”
–B-52’s, Mesopotamia (MP) “Give them credit: the B-52’s are making baking, ancient civilization, and mediocrity in general a lot more fun to dance to.”
—The Catherine Wheel (Eric Salzman) “These are rhythmic outlines for music with a ghastly emptiness inside…”
–Sammy Hagar, Standing Hampton (MP) “…the guy’s convinced he’s a ladies’ man and a deep thinker. Maybe he is, but he seems to have exhausted most of his cleverness here on the enigmatic record jacket.”
–Loretta Lynn, I Lie (NC) “Not a great album, but one aspiring singers could learn from.”
–Grover Washington, Jr., Come Morning (MP) “…all atmosphere, all sensation.”
Bryndle recorded an album in the early 70s but it was never released. They re-formed in the 90s and did put out two albums before Edwards and Gold passed away. Here’s a song from those first recording sessions that actually was released as a single.
A favorite from that Crenshaw debut.
And we wrap up with Berigan’s best-known song. He’s doing the vocals, too.