Monday, June 25, 2012

"Saddle Tramp" by Charlie Daniels Band (1976)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Editorial Note: The vinyl version doesn't have any text on the cover.

Fun Fact: As soon as I saw the cover art on this LP, I knew I was going to buy it before I even read who the artist was.  I'm pretty sure that dude on the front is one of my uncles.

Filed Between: Rodney Crowell and The Dave Clark Five.

Key Tracks:
Like last time, it's hard to choose - but for different reasons.  All seven songs have merit in their own way.  Cumberland Mountain Number Nine is my favorite track on the LP, and it's straight-up newgrass - complete with fiddle break and all.  (It's Charilie Daniels, so you know there has to be a fiddle break somewhere.)  And we'll go with It's My Life, just so I can put some good Chicago-style blues in there.  And to round it out, let's throw in Sweetwater Texas  as an archetype for a great country song.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Highly Recommended (3.5/4 stars)

This entry gives me the chance to proclaim that the seventies are the greatest decade ever when it comes to popular music.  The seventies spawned both Stairway to Heaven and disco.  Don't worry, that's not my entire argument...  It was a time when they had the toolbox of possibilities discovered by the sixties at their disposal, but it was also a time before the calculated commercialism of the eighties.  The seventies were a time (musically and spiritually) when the world seemed captivated with the notion of let's keep playing and see where this goes - especially on the airwaves.

The song Saddle Tramp proves this out.  It should be a three and a half minute country song.  Had it been written a decade earlier or later, it would've been.  But it's absolutely a seventies' song, so it ends up being an eleven minute Southern rock odyssey.  (I'm amazed at just how many songs fall into that specific category...)  Sure, it had happened every now and then before, but the seventies are where you look when you want to find very long instrumental sections in pop music that don't involve the terms "jam band" or "LSD."

So, is it Outlaw Country or Southern Rock?  The answer is yes.  Truth is, the only difference between the two are the record company and the marketing.  Honestly, if you're a big fan of Skynyrd, you're also a big fan of Waylon.  (I do not mention Johnny Cash here because I assume everyone is a fan of Johnny Cash.)

So, is it an album?  No.  Wait, what?!  "Saddle Tramp" is full of great songs and I loved listening to it again. 
Unfortunately, the songs don't really gel in context with each other - just look at all the genres mentioned in the "Key Tracks" section.

Up next, it looks like the South's gonna do it again with "Fandango" by ZZ Top.

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