Alan Ramsey - Eponymous
something unique about listening to an album that you know
was recorded a long time ago but you haven't yet heard, or
in the case of Willis Alan Ramsey, haven't even heard of.
But those who do know of this 1971 album will undoubtedly
let out a sigh of relief that it has finally been reissued;
"One of the greatest records of all time," as Lyle Lovett
is quoted on a cover sticker - and though that may be a slight
exaggeration, anyone who is a fan of the mish-mash of folk,
blues, country and rock of the 1970s will instantly reach
the most-likely-accurate conclusion that this record, though
never a big hit itself, was a huge influence on artists such
as the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and countless
fact, Willis Alan Ramsey's self-titled disc contains "Wishbone,"
covered soon after by Leon Russell, and "Muskrat Candlelight,"
reincarnated and rendered far less revelant as "Muskrat Love"
(same song, same lyrics, more commercially accessible title)
by both America and (gulp) Captain and Tennille. But even
the tunes that weren't covered sound instantly familiar -
Ramsey does a proto-Don Henley on the country ballad "Goodbye
Old Missoula," evoking the same mix of country twang and rock
desperation that the Eagles would later do so well. "Ballad
of Spider John" is more music-hallish in nature, bringing
Randy Newman to mind. "Boy From Oklahoma" tells a sad story
and brings more tears to your eyes than most Jim Croce or
Don McLean tunes. The bluesy and strictly-acoustic "Satin
Sheets" could even fit in on Led Zeppelin 3. Even the players
are recognizable - true connosseiurs of '70s California rock
will know that fiddle player Dusty Rhodes, bassist Leland
Sklar and drummers Russ Kunkel and Jim Keltner were some of
the most ubiquitious studio guests of the decade, appearing
on landmark releases like Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" and
Karla Bonoff's self-titled debut. Any '70s album that features
members of this group is going to pack a wallop, and this
is no exception.
lest it be thought Willis Alan Ramsey wasn't an original talent,
above all the album is the sound of a unique songwriter pouring
his heart out to the tune of 11 timeless standards. They just
don't make'em like this anymore.
out of 5.0