Monday, May 16, 2011

Silk Purse - Linda Ronstadt

Silk Purse
Linda Ronstadt
Capitol ST-500407

Linda Ronstadt's second solo album, it was extremely influential on me.  For some reason, my father had it in his record collection.  His taste in female singers ran more towards Vikki Carr or Barbara Streisand and he did not buy any other Ronstadt albums, so my guess is that he liked "Long Long Time," the single off this album.  This record has a strong country feel to it so I initially reacted with disdain to it because I hated country music at the time.  As I got older, I became intrigued with the album cover, that is to say I found the photo of Ronstadt extremely attractive, and I started playing the record and I got hooked.  I finally saw the appeal in country music.  This isn't my father's copy, I picked this up after I left home when I found myself missing it and wanting to hear it again.  I make no claims for this being a masterpiece, but it is a very entertaining record.  I've been listening to it for over 35 years now and I still really enjoy it.  "Long Long Time" is my favorite song on here, I consider it the best song Ronstadt ever did.  It is impeccably sung, with enormous feeling and sincerity and has a very lovely arrangement by Norbert Putnam.  I've always found it very moving and it still provokes a lot of memories and emotions in me when I spin it.   There are several other fine songs on here as well.  Ronstadt practically made a career out of resuscitating old rock and roll songs and inaugurates the practice here with the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" which she sings very effectively.  She does a credible cover of Hank Williams' version of "Lovesick Blues" and I really enjoy her full-throated performance on Mel Tillis' "Mental Revenge."  She beat Donny and Marie to Don and Dewey's "I'm Leaving It All Up to You" and trounces their performance with her robust delivery.  She also covers Dillard and Clark's "He Dark The Sun."  Their version was the best song on the excellent "The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark" but I think Ronstadt's version is at least as good.  I also really like her lovely duet with Gary White (the composer of "Long Long Time") on "Louise."   I know some people are rather dismissive of this album, but about the only bad thing I can say about it, is that it helped unleash the Eagles upon the world since they were her backing band on this album prior to their rise to stardom.  That's a pretty heinous crime, but Ronstadt's voice is so enchanting that I forgive her for it.  Fortunately this doesn't sound anything like the Eagles, it is easy to forget they are even on it.  Recommended to Ronstadt fans who have worn out their copies of "Heart Like A Wheel" - yes that's a terrific record, but I'd say this one is just as good.

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