I’d read that Dylan was a big fan of the man and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was a huge, dramatic hit a few years later, at least in North America, that I really liked, so I thought it was just possible Back Here On Earth might be some sort of minor gem. Okay, strictly speaking, this isn’t Wimpy Ass 70s Folk Rock, but given two years it would have been, so that’s as near as dammit for Categorization purposes. And Geeze-Louise, how much more sensitive can one guy get? When not inhaling the scent of a just picked twig, or writing poetry in which the narrator “see[s him]self as a child”, Gordo is indulging in a finger-picking guitar style so delicate it recalls nothing so much as the beating of butterfly’s wings, or summat.By turns wistful and resigned, Lightfoot’s inoffensive, literate country-folk is observational and likeable; but without the surreality of the best folk, the kitchen-sink drama of proper country or pop’s enchanting hookiness. And so, after a while, his warm, mellow voice (which recalls the Byrds’ Gene Clark), the same-y arrangements for guitars and bass and too-consistent tempi remind the listener of the vapor trail left by a jet high in the sky, it intrigues for a short while before disappearing leaving little trace.
Of course, one of the pleasures of thrifting are the occasional personal artifacts one comes across stuffed inside the jacket. Reviews, doodles, ads and other ephemera have all been emptied from 12″ square vessels past. In this case, lifted from another tabletop sale at the Tayne Centre in the village, I hoped I’d discovered an original piece of heartfelt doggerel on the inner sleeve: but no, it turned out to be a painstaking lyrical transcription of one of the tunes on the album. Still, kinda cool.