Ralph McTell – Slide Away the Screen (1979)

A lot of money was spent on this record–not by me, obviously–but everything about the look and feel of this 1979 Ralph McTell album screams large cash advance; from the textured Hipgnosis sleeve (an atypical modern looking but muted break from their usual hyper-realistic fare of the time and also featuring a heavy card inner bag with lining) to the top of the tree session players (ex-Fairports, ex-Lindisfarnes, Roger Kirby arrangements, etc.). Warner Communications had hit big in the preceding few years with AOR albums by former sixeventies blues devotees, folk purists, cosmic cowboys and lank haired singer songwriters (e.g. F. Mac, Jackson Browne, D. Straits, and so on and on and on) and no doubt the thinking was that the power of the paycheck and an LA gloss (via Chipping Norton studios) would do for McTell.  In the liner notes, the guitarist calls the sessions “the most enjoyable I’ve ever known” and certainly with everyone trying to out-tasteful each other you can imagine all present nodding appreciatively during playback as the effects of a few shared doobies kick in.

Just, no.

I’m not saying the album lacks bite or anything, but even given the diminished expectations of a California-styled Album Oriented Rock album with its attendant lyrical banality and perfectly played “mature” country tinges, these pleasant, pointless whisps of songs have about as much teeth as a newborn gumming its mother’s teat.

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 10:34 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. funnily enough i’ve had ‘streets of london’ stuck in my brain for several days now.

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