Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Blues / Rock Classic Gets Better with Every Passing Year
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 02/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Satisfied is the third entry in the exceptional canon of Mother Earth, the late 60's / early 70's country / rock / blues band from San Francisco. Like many fans of their amazing lead vocalist Tracy Nelson, I consider her the greatest "roots music" singer of the 20th century, and her presence the band's main claim to fame. After all, Tracy Nelson's solo career has outlasted the band by over 30 years, and she is still going strong. But anyone who discounts the powerful abilities of the band's other musicians is easily proven wrong by a good listen at the five classic ME albums made between 1968 and 1972. The early Mother Earth records are among the crown jewels of early blues-influenced rock and roll, and although this release has often taken a back seat to their first two LP's, I have a special fondness for Satisfied. Although I believe that Tracy Nelson's artistry and musicianship (especially her voice), peaked in the 1990's and continues to this day, I never argue with fellow fans who consider this her "golden period". This is the first Mother Earth album for which Ms. Nelson handled 100% of the vocal chores, as her name was already by this release eclipsing that of the band. No matter - anything connected with her exudes class and taste, and I relish every period of her very prolific output. From her 1965 acoustic blues debut for Prestige Records, through her Mercury and Reprise Mother Earth years, and right up through her latest (2007) country-ballad release, Stranger at My Door, I cherish every album Tracy Nelson has ever put out. But on to Satisfied....
The title song was originally a country-gospel number performed by a powerful singer named Martha Carson, who wrote and recorded the original version in 1951, with a then-unknown Chet Atkins on lead guitar. ("I'm satisfied with my Jesus; when he knocks, I'll let him in. And I'll go with him to the valley, because I know he is my friend"). Tracy Nelson herself once told me that she was not familiar with the original, and first heard the song on Lonnie Mack's debut album, 1965's The Wham of That Memphis Man. Unlike both Ms. Carson and Mr. Mack, Tracy performs it as a secular love song, her powerful voice easily invoking a gospel feel, if not a spiritual content. Indeed, one critic dubbed the music of Mother Earth "White Gospel", more for the soulful sound of Tracy's voice than any religious connection.
If ever there was a song title that sounds dated, it's Groovy Way; the word "groovy" has so long fallen into disuse that many youngsters today wouldn't know its meaning. But Tracy's soulful, heartfelt vocal is so tender and loving, it becomes an instant favorite for everyone I play it for, even those of a generation who wouldn't know love beads from a pearl necklace. "Hey yeah, what's a groovy way to say, `I love you?'", Tracy wails, "I really, really do. I've searched everywhere for a new way to say I care, but it's no use - it's really no use". Then she takes off. Her reading of this achingly simple lyric is so heartfelt, that anyone who has ever been in love can instantly identify with its joyous exuberance and bouncy sentimentality.
After this gorgeous ballad, Tracy turns playful - the title of "Get Out of Here" tells the whole story - Tracy is finished with her man, and is showing him the door. It's a strong statement, one she handles with power and authority. "...I know what I said last night, but you got yourself too uptight, and you just can't see the forest for the trees. So take a train or a plane, it's all the same, just get out of here. Take a bus if you must, make sure you just - get out of here". On the final chorus, she commands "WALK IT OUTTA HERE!..." with such bravado, that I sometimes almost forget I'm listening to a record, and find myself heading towards the door. I know I wouldn't want this woman mad at me. It's a song full of humor and surprises.
As on all early Tracy Nelson efforts, we get the obligatory nod to Irma Thomas, Tracy's earliest musical influence. Anytime Tracy covers someone else's material, she makes the song her own, neither invoking the original nor making you long to hear it. Tracy's version of Ruler of My Heart, while clearly inspired by her mentor, owes nothing to Irma Thomas' version, and easily stands on its own. I know Tracy wouldn't be upset with me when I tell you that I have always preferred the original, but I'm the kind who's usually a sucker for definitive versions, and Tracy's pace here is just a bit slower than I would have preferred. Nevertheless, most fans consider this the premiere track of the album, so who am I to say it's my least favorite track? You can be the judge.
Many Tracy Nelson albums include at least one song of her own composition, but Satisfied contains an exceptional gem. Highly personal and exceedingly tender, Andy's Song was clearly written with Andy McMahon in mind; Andy was not only the primary keyboardist for the early Mother Earth albums, he was Tracy's life partner for far longer than the band stayed together. This tune is one of the standouts of Tracy's early career, and a stunning example of lyrical imagery at its finest.
Take Me in Your Arms, Rock Me a Little While was written by Holland, Dozier and Holland, and, as the title implies, it's a real rocker. The beat is sure, the vocal pure. What more could one want.
Which brings us to the album's two closing songs, You Won't Be Passing Here No More and This Feeling. They saved the best for last; these are easily my two favorites, on an album I have never grown tired of. Tracy's vocal on the first number shows off her extraordinary level of sensitivity, and a few glimpses of her wonderful but underused higher register. Both the sensuous undertone and the power of Tracy's voice on This Feeling is nothing short of electric. The song goes on and on, heartfelt verse after heartfelt verse. "Do you realize that there's a light shining in your eyes, as you softly turn to go? Only yesterday I had a love; a love I thought was true, but a love that went away...When you looked my way, it felt like yesterday...This Feeling is coming again..." I first heard Satisfied about 8 years after its 1970 release; thirty years later, this song is still able to give me chills.
Many fans of Mother Earth and Tracy Nelson insist that their earlier releases, Living with the Animals and Make a Joyful Noise are their strongest entries. But I have not only always had a special fondness for Satisfied, I think their second Reprise effort, Mother Earth / Tracy Nelson, is an overlooked masterpiece. Try any one of them, and you may find yourself picking up the rest. Highly recommended.
Just as good as the rest of their catalog
J. Rosenberg | Portland, Oregon | 06/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw nobody had weighed in on Satisfied yet like they had the other Mother Earth reissues so I thought I'd give it the ol' thumbs up. This is their third album, and features an almost all-new lineup from the first two records (which themselves had some different members), and it's a very solid effort with some real band highlights. "Andy's Song" is perhaps Tracy's greatest original besides her classic "Down So Low", it's a tune in the "you've got a friend" category that features some of her most compassionate vocals. Meanwhile, "This Feeling" has some really cool, jazzy, slightly discordant harmonies that are years ahead of their time -- the kind of thing Joni Mitchell would start experimenting with on Court and Spark/Hissing of Summer Lawns. "Groovy Way" is another favorite featuring some great jamming from the reconstituted band. Too bad the limited insert doesn't reproduce more of the nice elements of the original packaging, but still, it's good to have this back in circulation along with the rest of the group's great work!"