zaterdag 11 mei 2019

Stay Around. J. J. Cale

It only takes a few notes for me to know who I am listening to. J.J. Cale has a signature sound that is unmistakable. Don't ask me to describe it in detail, but it has to do with this bounce in his jazzy form of country laidback rock music. Everything in the song seems to be hanging on for just a little longer than possible before jumping into the song, creating a deceptive laziness that certainly is not in presence.

John Weldon Cale was born in 1938 and died already six years ago, time flies, in 2013. And yet a new album. Of course we're dealing with left overs here, but I can tell you that is just fine. I am extrememly happy to be listening to new songs from J.J.

I have to go back to 1976, the year that J.J. Cale came into my life. His album 'Troubadour' was played regularly on an album show on Tuesday afternoons. 'Cocaine' was one of the songs, 'Travelling Light' another that wound up on one of my tapes I made from listening to radio shows. My first J.J. Cale album would probably have been '5', with 'Shades' and 'Grasshopper' as my favourites. Working backwards 'Okie' was my favourite. 'Travelling Log' will have been my last album I suppose. I had heard enough J.J. Cale music in 1990. Nothing changes, does it?

Come 2019 and I am more than ready to listen to some new songs. Nothing has changed, yet, the songs fall on welcome ground. (Not only mine, as I found a heart-shaped post it on the cd cover stating "a very nice cd!". ) More or less like 'Roll On' (2009) was received by me. Time did its work it seems.

This is the first album released with Cale songs after his demise. His widow Christine Lakeland searched for songs that were as 100%  J.J. Cale as possible. Self-produced, with his own signature. For whatever reason they were not released before. I can't hear a single reason why as they are first class J.J. Cale songs to my ears. Looking at who played on the sessions, you will find nearly everyone who played on Neil Young's non-Crazy Horse records in the 1970s and occasionally beyond that decade. When the songs were recorded and over how long a period, I have no way of telling. Stay Around is a whole though. Until the more clear sounding 'O My My' that is. The guitar sounds very much differently here.

Stay Around offers no new vantage points to J.J. Cale's work. I'm glad that it does not. This is the J.J. Cale his fans love to hear and appreciate so much. The album is an unexpected present unwrapped lovingly and full of appreciation. Once in the cd player I only have to close my eyes and drift away. Stay around a bit longer J.J.! Through this album he does and I welcome it.


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1 opmerking:

  1. Some comments were received via the email by Mark:

    "I was very interested to see that you had written about JJ Cale who I had followed with every album since like you I bought - yes - Okie in 1976. And I bought Stay Around in Tokyo last week and it is sheer delight from start to finish, superbly curated by Christine Lakeland (a singer in her own right). Unlike the outtakes collection Rewind released a few years before he passed away which I thought was an awkward mix of less impressive left-overs and some not so successful covers, every track on Stay Around is exquisite: some slow and mesmerising, others fast trucking along to shake you up a bit (bot not too heavy), plus a few medium-paced, infectious shuffles thrown in of which he was a true master. No big lyrical themes or guitar histrionics: just caressing the melodies with the guitar in all the right places. I've mentioned him over the years to many people with an ear for good music but nobody seemed to understand - so you're the first person I can connect with about JJ Cale!

    Cale was in a select cluster of low-key but huge talents along with Gillian Welch and Kate & Anna McGarrigle who are uniquely gifted, totally without pretention and brash ambition, down to earth and just darned nice people! They command huge respect amongst their loyal followers who have to wait patiently for news of occasional album releases (when are we going to hear again from Gillian Welch?) and the even rarer opportunities to see them perform live. I was fortunate to see Gillian Welch at her only London date a few years ago but alas JJ Cale I never got to see as he hardly ever did any overseas tours. British equivalents would be Michael Chapman who after many years in the wilderness is now being re-discovered and doing gigs: great to see him getting the accolades he has long deserved (but never had the ego to seek). Also Bridget St.John who was championed by John Peel but ultimately couldn't handle the big time and dropped out of view (my original copies of her l.p.s have proved to be a sound investment). And of course Nick Drake who was not only a remarkable songwriter but also a distinctive masterclass guitar stylist - as indeed Michael Chapman is. However, he was too shy to perform on stage, couldn't find his audience, sold very few records and committed suicide after just three albums - which are now considered classics. I was very lucky to see Kate and Anna McGarrigle in concert in1976 after their first marvellous l.p. because I do not think they ever toured again in Europe: doing big gigs and heavy tour schedules was simply not their style (sadly Kate passed away in 2010).

    As is often the case with Japanese CDs, my copy of Stay Around has a bonus track called Worrying Off My Mind (sic)which is another delightfully typical slice of JJ Cale country blues with Christine Lakeland helping out with some background nudging harmonies: wonderful! So you could say on this occasion I'm one up on you, Wout!"