Monday, November 17, 2008

Album Of The Day #112: GARDEN PARTY - Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band

Title: Garden Party
Artist: Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band
Label: Decca/MCA
Released: 1972
Songs: Let It Bring You Along*/Garden Party/So Long Mama/I Wanna Be With You**/Are Your Really Real?/I’m Talking About You***/Nightime Lady/A Flower Opens Gently/Don’t Let Your Goodbye Stand#/Palace Guard
Written by: Rick Nelson, except *by Stephen A. Love, **by Allen L. Kemp & Randy Meisner, ***by Chuck Berry and #by Richard Stekol
Produced by: Rick Nelson
Thoughts: The Capitol issue of Rick Nelson’s greatest hits, from his Imperial hey-day, is probably one of my favorite greatest hits discs. Nelson’s albums are a pain to find…in fact, before today, when I bought Garden Party, I didn’t even know they were on CD. An over-seas company has issued two-fers of his early, hit LPs, but they are expensive. That’s primarily why, even though I despise hits packages with a passion, I let Nelson’s hits suffice. Plus, fifties LPs are notorious for being filled with just filler, nothing more than a buffer for the single that the LP, nine times out of ten, was named for. I got Garden Party, though, because it was cheap. It appears to be the only LP that MCA felt needed to be released from his years on Decca, so in the late 80’s, the LP was issued on CD with just the original notes and pictures. The Virgin Record store in Times Square (which sadly appears to be closing) had a copy for just $7, so I grabbed it.
This is a pretty cool, rockin’ LP. “Garden Party”, as great as it is, is not a proper representative of this album’s overall sound. It feels more like a way to showcase the adequate playing of the Stone Canyon Band. Rick’s songs are loose and have little weight in the way of lyrics, so it is necessary for his band to carry the load. His vocals are also surprisingly rough. However ballads like “Nightime Lady” (incorrectly spelled on the liner) prove that his voice retains that boyish charm that made songs like “Hello Mary Lou” and “Lonesome Town” so wonderful.
The best songs, oddly enough, prove to be the ones Rick didn’t write. “I’m Talking About You”, a pretty nifty Chuck Berry cover, and “Don’t Let Your Goodbye Stand” allow the band to go off a bit, which makes them all the better. On Rick’s songs, the band sounds a little confined, which is probably because they just aren’t that good. Beyond “Garden Party”, the songs really don’t stand well. Even the previously mentioned ballads, including the way-too-long “Palace Guard” ending, feel like they are missing something. By the way, it is interesting to see that MCA included a picture of Nelson’s notes for “Garden Party”, showing how much it appears that he agonized over it.
In the end, Garden Party proves to be an enjoyable record that I’m proud to have in my collection. However, I wouldn’t really seek it out. Having access to “Garden Party” is a necessity, but the rest of the songs are throwaways, with none of them sounding like some hidden gem or something.
(Plus, how awesome is that album cover picture?)

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