Sunday, 3 June 2018

Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading (1976)

I'm open to persuasion....


Released September 1976

Recorded at Olympic Studios, London

This was Joan Armatrading’s third album. Upon its 1976 release, nobody had heard of her. After, a few weeks, lots of people had. This appealing mix of acoustic folky rock made the artist a well known, credible mane, and the album became a dinner party favourite.


1. Down To Zero

2. Help Yourself
3. Water With The Wine
4. Love And Affection
5. Save Me
6. Join The Boys
7. People
8. Like Fire
9. Somebody Who Loves You
10. Tall In The Saddle                               

The opener, “Down To Zero” gives it a great start, a staccato acoustic rhythm and full band backing and some killer lyrics and ambience. “Help Yourself” continues the laid back acoustic feeling mixed with occasional full band power backing and Joan’s versatile, infectious voice, at times soul deep then beguilingly high. “Water With The Wine” is almost funky at times, but jazzy too. Then, of course, we get the big one - the sumptuous, timeless “Love And Affection”. This was the hit single, the track that made everyone sit up and take notice. Nobody disliked it, it seemed, it garnered full praise across the board. When Joan sings the first line - “I am not in love, but I’m open to persuasion” one is hooked. The wonderful backing kicks in and her voice does all sorts of things. Then the saxophone. A true classic.

Similar vocal agility is demonstrated on the beautiful “Save Me”. A point has to be made also about the quality of the music. This is often thought to be an acoustic album. It is not. There is string orchestration and often a powerful rock drum backing, “Save Me” has all those things, while “Join The Boys” has a great bass/drum/acoustic guitar intro. This is actually quite a heavy track. Impressive stuff. On the album in general there is some inventive, clever music.

“People” has that staccato jazzy groove that Armatrading would often use over the ensuing years. “Like Fire” is in the same vein, with a rumbling, thundering bass line too. One of the album’s best tracks . “Somebody Who Loves You” is a lighter, romantic number. “Tall In The Saddle” is a powerful closer, with a searing, unexpected guitar solo. Forty-odd years later, this album has not dated. Many good albums ensued, but, as with many artists, it is is this, one of their relatively early albums that they never bettered.


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