Despite the fact it’s Monday, despite the fact it’s cold out*, despite the fact that work is driving me up the wall and despite the fact that we’ve run out of real coffee here in 1537 Towers I’m feeling very mellow tonight. Possibly because we’ve had a weekend of celebrating my 18th wedding anniversary this weekend, possibly it’s just the drink but I’m feeling strangely at ease with the world. So what does a happy content 1537 reach for? J.J Cale Troubadour, of course.
Just like Santana Caravanserai, this was an LP that everyone my parents knew had and in my childish memory played constantly. So much so in fact that I could have been forgiven for thinking that the acquisition of same formed part of some tribal ritual associated with coming of age,
Congratulations, you man now – you go hunt food, make fire, mate with chicks! Here copy Troubadour!
Which would be no bad thing at all. I love this LP, I love his whole sound and whilst I have no doubt that I’ve heard everything of his from the 70’s and 80’s many, many times and liked it this is the only J.J Cale I own. I can’t remember when or where I bought it, although it seems to be a Portuguese copy for some reason, my small sticker system**has failed me. Maybe Troubadour just found me when I was ready for it.
This is an LP I do put on from time to time when the mood strikes but I rarely sit down and think about it much, I just let it wash over me. But having done the thinking bit today, I have to say that I’m shocked at what a mucky little horn-pony Mr Cale is! The man is rampant! There are more chaste R&B acts out there! There are references to ‘destroy your inhibitions’ and more riding than I feel can be medically advisable in ‘Ride Me High’, and as for ‘Let me do it to You’ …
Mmm, mmm, mmm
Let me do it to you
Repeated nine or ten times is the sum total of the lyrics. My son and I just had a discussion about what he could possibly mean by this, he plumped for stamping on someone’s new shoes and my bet was for breaking a raw egg on the back of someone’s head. Sadly due to Mr Cale’s recent demise I fear we will never learn which of us is correct, although I’m pretty sure it is me.
In fact listening to the whole of Troubadour I begin to fear that the whole thing is just a smoke-shrouded shagcessory, I fear that this was basically our forefathers put on as either the prelude to, or as the accompaniment to the act of mating. Ewww! In fact I have no doubt at all that I could scientifically prove that there was a spike in the number of births 9 months after this was released in 1976. Definitely.
You can’t write about J.J Cale without using the phrase ‘laid-back’, it’s impossible. In fact he’s so laid-back he is supine. Troubadour’s grab ’em by the nuts, in your face opening track is the gentle, umm, laid back ‘Hey Baby’, as sweet hymn to your special someone as you could ever wish for. I have a real soft spot for the 100mph ‘Travelin’ Light’, which I have been known to break out my air microphone for on occasion. the aforementioned ‘Ride Me High’ is my favourite track tonight, J.J’s vocals giving Barry White a run for his lover-man money, but so light, so high and breathless that the loving in question is anything but earthy, it’s far more stellar than that.
I also love ‘Cocaine’ with it’s added guitar crunch which has the effect of drawing a thick outline around the song. Hell, as a kid I used to love Clapton’s version from the One More Night LP that my dad had on cassette, but J.J Cale’s version has more subtlety, more surety. If I was putting together a compilation of drug/drink songs called Bloodstream’s Greatest Hits this would definitely be the lead off song.
Like picking your favourite kittens from a litter it’s unfair to pick out individual tracks here, it’s all good and as an LP it works perfectly, with enough variations and enough unity of sound to keep it interesting. The production by Audie Ashworth is flawless and just perfectly judged.
Understated, mellow and a little nudge-nudge wink-wink, what more could you wish for on a Monday night?
*only by my wussy British standards, I appreciate you Midwesterners and Canadians are probably having to carve your way through canyons of ice in -40C temperatures to get to work every morning, but all things are relative.
**I originally wrote ‘my small anal sticker system’ but changed it after fearing I’d just attract the wrong sorts here.