Simple Dreams (Expanded Edition)
Is it really forty years since onetime Stone Poneys singer Linda Ronstadt released this record?! It has radio hits and a Rolling Stones interpretation, lovely artwork, the cream of players AND in this incarnation, three extra tracks, all live performances…. So something to savour for fans of the West Coast singer-songwriter scene of those days. It does help that English producer Peter Asher knew exactly how to frame Ronstadt’s appealing singing and that he eschewed over-production with a view to delivering the core qualities of each number. It originally replaced Rumours as No 1 on the album charts.
It’s So Easy is the Buddy Holly tune in punchy version with Ronstadt singing in a semi-throaty style and of course the California dream session guys. I have met some of these legendaries – Mr Kunkel, Waddy Wachtel and they do make it look easy. No wonder the tracks came together in the studio very quickly, in most instances.
Carmelita is a Warren Zevon song I have been playing lately and it’s a lovely south-of-the border tune. Linda makes it ache, here. The production is deliberately laid-back, with the weeping pedal steel embroidering the song. The cooing Hammond is back in the mix, sounding so right..
Simple Man, Simple Dreams is a J D Southern composition and again the backing is kept simple and pretty. Don Grolnick on electric piano. Ronstadt sings the back off it, with no histrionics or yelling.
Sorrow Lives Here was from Eric Kaz and taps into a peaceful tenderness based around the acoustic piano of Grolnick. It’s an almost hymnal rendition, probably showing her roots in the music of Judy Collins, I suspect.
I Never Will Marry finds friend Dolly Parton aboard and a pastoral romantic reflection it is, enriched by the gentle harmonies. Waddy and Linda on acoustic guitars. Blue Bayou had been a huge hit for Roy Orbison and Ronstadt finds her own haunting voice to use on this spellbinding tune. Kenny Edwards and yes Don Henley on bv’s. A perfect steel solo by Dan Dugmore. Can it get any better? Not in his strand of music, folks.
Poor Poor Pitiful Me rocks harder. It is another Zevon tune and surely this is the template for the current Fleetwood Mac. Dead steady bass, tough drums kept in check, buzzy guitar always ready to solo. Maybe the best vocal on this collection I would say.
Maybe I’m Right is Waddy’s composition, perfect for Ronstadt. Peter Asher joins in the chorale parts. Acoustic guitar, bass, no drums. Almost a lullabye effect, here.
Tumbling Dice is indeed the Stones’ song from Exile. All tapping piano, throbbing bass and Linda letting loose. Shame she never did Beast Of Burden! That she can still sound so good away from clean, folky songs and make this more ramshackle creation come to life compliments her and the muso’s. The slide guitar is glorious. Rick Marotta is on drums for this album, btw.
Old Paint is an ancient folk song and sung as straight as a ruler by Ronstadt, with enough soul and feel to make it attractive and not dull.
The additional and live performance tracks on this edition are It’s So Easy, Blue Bayou and Poor Poor Pitiful Me. BTW, one time when Ronstadt went to an LA club she discovered that a scruffy bunch of English guys were there and willing to back her. She looked askance at them but they insisted they knew her material ! Hence she got to perform with Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention!
(Thanks to Warners London)
Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’ (Expanded Edition) is released on Friday 15th September 2017 by Rhino/Warners.
You can pre-order the album on Amazon UK here: http://amzn.to/2eL92lY