Vince Cabrera | Milan, Italy | 01/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lots of evil minded people say that JJ Cale had a great influence on the early Dire Straits' guitar sound. Knopfler went on to a different, brasher sound and became a latter day guitar hero. JJ Cale himself kept plowing the furrow that he had largely invented, perhaps even taking the occasional page out of the DS book.And yes, listening to this 1982 record, it's hard not to notice the similarities with early Dire Straits material. "Downtown LA" for example, sounds a lot like "Down To The Waterline", and so on and so forth.Comparisons apart, this is a very pleasant listen. It's full of soft, understated vocals and twangy electric guitars. It's a nice piece of rootsy Americana which plays heavily on the whole "drifter hobo" trip. It will rock out if you listen to it closely but won't invade your privacy unless you want it to. As someone has already mentioned, you get the feeling that some of these songs could have been AOR radio hits ("City Girls" for one was a minor hit) There's lots of tasty guitar licks and, with the addition of congas and other percussion, a couple of nice forays into more ethicky territory.Some of the studio gloss has dated a tiny bit (the "telephone" vocals on "One Step Ahead of the Blues" for example) and the whole album sounds anything but recent, but in this retro age that's not even a really bad thing. Grasshopper won't change your life, but it's a very pelasant listen all the same."
A good way to 'hop in' to Cale's music
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I think that this is one of Cale's better CD's. It's not perfect. As always with Cale, this one's a mixed bag. There are some tracks that I DISLIKE. Grasshopper and Dr Jive spring to mind - a pair of very ordinary instrumentals.On this CD, Cale comes just about as close to 'commercial' as he ever has. Tracks like City Girls and You keep me hangin on 'feel' like hits. The former, gentle country/pop the latter an understated, pretty piano based ballad. Other songs to watch out for are 'Drifters wife' and 'A thing going on'. The former fingerpicked accoustic, the latter, electric blues(y) like nobody else does it.Newcomers beware; Cale comes from HIS OWN school of recording, producing and mixing. Nobody sounds like Cale. Often, you can expect mumbled vocals, low in the mix, with similarly treated lead guitars. His philosophy is to make you 'lean into the song', rather than be overpowered by it. For the most part though, this CD is fairly conventional, so there shouldn't be too many frights. An added bonus - included in the inlay, the recipe for Cales own variation on the Grasshopper cocktail!"
More classic JJ Cale
Vince Cabrera | 07/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was my first JJ Cale album (nearly 10 years ago) and although it may not be the best one to get first, it does contains some undisputed classics. A great album, containing more of Cale's wistful restlessness, both in voice and guitar. Check out Downtown LA, Drifter's Wife, City Girls and A Thing Going On, in particular."