Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Linda Ronstadt

Two pleasant albums from sexy Tucson seƱorita Linda Ronstadt to check out here....

Hasten Down The Wind (1976)

This was quite a solemn, serious and poignant album from Linda Ronstadt, with a couple of upbeat exceptions. As always with her stuff, the music quality is top notch too. Also notable was the cover to the album, which was one that got teenage boys such as myself all hot under the collar back in 1976.

Lose Again is a solid piece of mid-seventies easy rock, half country, half rock. The Tattler is a fine mid-pace Ry Cooder song that has that typically Cooder balance between rock, country and soul. Linda sings it really well too, it is a nice track. If He’s Ever Near has a feel that many a female country rock singer would use as a template over subsequent years - Trisha Yearwood, Suzy Bogguss, Mary Chapin Carpenter - that slow, moving, romantic sound.

Linda always liked a rocking cover (often a Buddy Holly one) and she delivers a great one here in That’ll Be The Day. As always, she gets it spot on. 
Lo Siento My Vida is a sleepy Mexican ballad to bring the pace back down again. Hasten Down The Wind is a beautiful Warren Zevon piano, strings and bass ballad with a Jackson Browne feel to it.

An unusual addition is a short a capella version of The Melodians’ reggae number, Rivers Of Babylon, with “oh Far I” sung as “over I”. Funnily enough the next track, Give One Heart, is a slightly reggae-influenced one. Try Me Again is a muscular serving of country rock, with the emphasis on rock, with lots of backing vocals and rock guitar breaks. Crazy, the old late night standard is putty in Linda’s capable hands. Down So Low is a big, gospelly ballad while Someone To Lay Down Beside Me is a piano-driven slow number enhanced by a beautifully funky bass line. Overall, this is a pleasant breath of fresh Arizona evening air that rarely gets out of second gear, which is fine, but I prefer the greater variety of the next album. Furthermore, albums like this don’t require too much track-by-track analysis, they are just pleasant from beginning to end, politely unthreatening, but, again, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Simple Dreams (1977)

This was one of Linda Ronstadt’s most successful albums from 1977, its quiet, seductive country rock purity seemingly oblivious to contemporary punk trends. Punk certainly never made it to the bars of Tuscon.

It’s So Easy is a rollicking, robust cover of Buddy Holly’s song that comes pounding out of your speakers, full of jangly guitars, thumping drums and a rousing vocal from Linda. Its liveliness is at odds with most of the album, particularly the first half. 

The cover of Warren Zevon’s Carmelita seems to have been recorded at half the volume of its predecessor but despite that it is beautiful slice of Tex-Mex (with a lot of Tuscon, Arizona) drowning in your tequila bar-room heartbreaker. Its cynical drug-related lyrics bely its winsome Latin melody. Willy De Ville has covered it, most appropriately. Simple Man, Simple Dream is another entrancing South-Western country ballad, as Linda lends her warm Arizona tones to a beautifully bassy backing. Lovely stuff. Sorrow Lives Here is a gentle vocal and piano ballad. I Never Will Marry is a tender duet with Dolly Parton, that has both voices out-heartbreaking each other.

Roy Orbison’s Blue Bayou is given a fetching but solid makeover, with a nice deep bass and drum sound plus some country twangy guitars. 
The album’s second Warren Zevon song is the rousing electric country rock of Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, a track that rocks from beginning to end. I love this track. The tempo slows down again on Maybe I’m Right, which is, surprisingly, a Little Richard song.

The Rolling Stones’ Tumbling Dice suits Ronstadt and her band right down to the ground and it is one of the best Stones covers around. They nail it - big, thumping and energetically sexy. The album ends with the beautifully maudlin country ballad Old Paint, a song that reminds me of Gram Parsons or Pure Prairie League. This was a relatively short but delightfully appealing country rock album, immaculately played and sung. Good honest fare.

Check out Warren Zevon's work here :-


  1. She's like one of those people who I don't think are actually very good but nevertheless put out a bunch of individual songs that I like. And most of them are on these two albums that you reviewed right here. It's funny that you should mention Punk cuz a couple years later she put out her so-called New Wave album. There were three or four Punky songs that weren't very good but the weird thing is the album has more good songs than any of her other ones, but just not the punky songs. Neil Young's Look Out for My Love and The Hollies and Little Anthony covers are the best thing she ever did in my opinion. Actually, one of the new wave songs is pretty great too. And that would be her cover of Elvis Costello's Girls Talk. It's better than Dave Edmunds'. It's great. Even though I hated her covers of Allison and Party girl by Elvis Costello. Those really sucked. But they were shitty songs anyway. I never did think he was all that great. Except for Armed Forces which I kind of like.

  2. I am a big fan of Costello, but I understand he is an acquired taste for some, and many just don't like him. I too liked her cover of Girls Talk. I must check out that album. Do you like Warren Zevon by the way?

  3. I like several songs on his first few albums, especially Armed Forces, and a few afterwards too. But I'll take Joe Jackson instead. I like Warren Zevon sometimes. I like most of Excitable Boy album and The Envoy. But I'm not too familiar with anything after that.

  4. I like Joe Jackson too. Graham Parker?

  5. I picked up one of Graham Parker's albums once cuz I liked the song Fool's Gold that I heard on Rachel Sweet's Protect the Innocent album (which is an awesome new wave album, btw). But now I can't remember the name of the Graham Parker album. I think it had a brown cover with just a picture of him standing there in sunglasses or something. I think he sounded like early New Wave or something. Maybe like Wreckless Eric or that type of thing. That type of early New Wave. But I can't be sure cuz I don't remember that well.

  6. I've reviewed three of Parker's albums, maybe it is one of those?

    Rachel Sweet had a thing with Springsteen around the time she had her albums out, I think. I must check them out. Thanks for that recommendation.