Darkest..Bleakest Work of A Dark & Bleak Player
Mitch Ritter | Po' Land, Or-Wa USA | 10/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Made during the Reagan-Bush trickledown years as homelessness in the USA was being normalized and the national debt run up on a black budget of Afghani heroin and Contra crack pipelining into U.S. cities, this is the darkest and bleakest album by an artist that never would've been mistaken for a party boy anyway. For nuanced guitar listeners Richard Thompson is credited on the sessions, but it turns out from the outtakes that appear on the recent ANYWAY THE WIND BLOWS: J.J. CALE ANTHOLOGY that Thompson's most signature guitar sounds intertwined with Cale's slithery lines on "Santa Cruz," and that wound up on #8's cutting room floor. Cale and his core group of players; Christine Lakeland (co-writing some of the best stuff here, and singing counter vocal on their collaboration "Money Talks"), Jim Karstein the "rhythm fool" cited verbally and on the backbeat during the death-defying blues-scale-climbing-&-a'plummeting "Takin' Care of Bidnet," Jim Keltner on trashcans, and Spooner Oldham's deep groovin' Muscle Shoals organ charcoal in some shades of black & blues America rarely sees in the mass media mirror. "Hard Times," "Unemployment" and the existential marvel in so few words & chords that makes my marrow run on "Living Here Too" are just a few of the reasons to go back to this album when the cost of hanging on doesn't seem worth any slim benefits on offer. But then, why believe me? As so sharply picked out on steelstrings that Cale works in his hands like a hitman cat's cradling piano wire behind a mark's neck, "You can talk to a pauper/You can talk to a prince/You can talk to a preacher/Or the President/Some people lie.../People lie...ya see?/They say one thing/And mean something else completely...." Rumor has it Cale and his mates also cut a lengthy instrumental jam of Ray Charles's "Hit The Road, Jack" for this album, but the record company left it off. Too bad, as my only complaint is the ...poor Nashville filler of Paul Craft's "Teardrops In My Tequila," and the short running time of the vinyl, with no bonus tracks added to the CD reissue. Cale took a 6 year break from the 'bidnet' after this record was done. This was our real 1984, not Orwell's fiction...."
A darker album for JJ Cale; an 80s social comment.
M. G. Middleditch | New Zealand | 07/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another fine effort by JJ Cale. This was his last album, released in 1983, before taking a long break from recording.
It's a great album; highlights being: - "Money Talks", "Hard Times", "Unemployment", "Trouble in the City", "Teardrops in my Tequila" (penned by Paul Craft) and "Livin' Here Too".
This is a darker album for JJ Cale and the album has a feel of "modern financial hardship blues". This is blues for today and Cale's observational lyrics are balanced with his words of experience and involvement; all well suited to even the situation we have during this recession. They're quite refreshing to hear alongside our present apathetic song writers and music industry who consider an important subject to be trivial teenage angst or in making political waves provide an abundance of expletives that only encourage the general public to dismiss the song as a banal immature rant.
The album was produced during a time when post punk/new wave was at its height and social comment through artistic and popular media was all the rage. This album still stands up both musically and lyrically and is one of my favourites of JJ Cale.
To get a review of JJ Cale's body of work during his prolific era, to '83, see my review for "Shades"."