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John David Souther: Black Rose and Home By Dawn

Doug Collette By

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John David Souther was an outlaw among outlaws in the Seventies clique of self-styled desperadoes of Los Angeles-based country rock. A frequent collaborator with, but never actually a member of, the Eagles, he readily admits, in one set of liner notes author Scott Schinder wisely devotes to the artist's own verbiage, that his iconoclastic nature didn't lend itself to ongoing group projects such as the admittedly contrived group David Geffen(founder of the Asylum Records label on which these solo titles first appeared) ordained with Buffalo Springfield/Poco member Richie Furay and Byrds/ Burrito Brother Chris Hillman.

So it only stands to reason that Souther's active participation in the preparation of these albums (resulting in the inclusion of song lyrics as well as track-by-track musician credits) would mirror the depth to which he immersed himself in their initial recordings . Souther's latter day recordings, such as If the World Was You (Slow Curve, 2008) and Natural History ( Eone Music, 2011) are, in the positive hindsight afforded by such reissues, extensions of the eclectic approach he applied to the earliest records he made under his own name.

John David Souther
Black Rose
Omnivore
2016

Perhaps as a direct result of the influence of producer by Peter Asher, who was at the helm of Linda Ronstadt's most successful records, the lavish production values of Black Rose, in fact, are in stark contrast to the bare-bones simplicity of Souther's eponymous debut. In fact, this second solo album of Souther's almost functions as an exercise in style conceived and executed to depict the man's diverse skills as a songwriter. As such, the reggae construct of "Bangin' My Head Against the Moon" and the lush orchestration of "If You Have Crying Eyes" betray a lack of emotional engagement on Souther's part, the more involved likes of which he evinces, albeit with his usual passionate remove, on tracks like "Your Turn Now" and even more so, "Faithless Love." The sparse sounds of the latter presages a clutch of bonus tracks, seven to be exact, the highlight of which (the enlightening nature of the solo demos notwithstanding) is a rendition of the late Lowell George's "Cheek to Cheek," culled from the Little Feat leader's solo album, where J.D. Souther sings and plays bass with a relish that belies the restraint he exercises on his own material.

John David Souther
Home By Dawn
Omnivore
2016

Four albums on three different labels is not the kind of business arrangement that sustains a career, so it may be no surprise J.D.Souther's Home By Dawn, reaffirms his own perception that, with a bit more perseverance, his mix of country and rock that dominates this lone Warner Bros. effort might well have kept and cultivated the audience he found after a single release on Sony. His last recording for almost a quarter century, it betrays little to no effect of the abrupt label jump he also describes in his liner notes, in fact, with the mix of West Coast and Nashville players and singers, it sits almost squarely between his first two solo albums. Like the other expanded editions on Omnivore, this title's comprised of the original track listing but comparatively fewer bonus tracks, perhaps because of the original album's fitful history; nevertheless, more of the simplicity of "I'll Take Care of You" demo would offset the otherwise slick production, while the duet with Linda Ronstadt on "Hearts Against the Wind" is more than a little provocative, suggesting the two might've reinvented the country tradition of duos to good effect for the both of them..

Tracks and Personnel

Black Rose

Tracks: Banging My Head Against The MoonIf You Have Crying Eyes; Your Turn Now; Faithless Love; Baby Come Home; Simple Man, Simple Dream; Silver Blue; Midnight Prowl; Doors Swing Open; Black Rose; Faithless Love (Live); Songs Of Love (Band Demo); Can Almost See It (Demo); Cheek To Cheek—Lowell George' Border Town (Solo Demo) ; Texas Nights And Mexican Moons (instrumental piano demo); Songs Of Love (Solo Demo).

Personnel: John David Souther: vocals, acoustic guitar; Arp String ensemble, percussion; Waddy Wachtel: guitar; Danny Kootch: guitar; Lowell George: slide guitar; Joe Walsh: slide guitar; Andrew Gold: vocals, guitar, keyboards; Peter Asher: vocals, keyboards, percussion; Paul Stallworth: bass; Kenny Edwards: bass; Chuck Domanico; Mike Botts: drums; Russ Kunkel: drums; Jim Keltner: drums; John Guerin: drums; Charles Veal: violins; Robert Dubow: violins; Kathleen Lenski: violins; Sheldon Sanov: violins; Haim Shtrum: violins; James Dunham; viola: David Campbell: viola; Pamela Goldsmith: viola; Ray Kelly: cello: Dennis Karmazyn: cello; Harry Shlutz; Ronald Cooper: cello alto flute: Don Menza; oboe: Earl Dunbar; flute: Donald Byrd: flugelhorn; Earl Dunbar; double bass: David Duke: French horn; Vincent De Rosa: French Horn; Stanley Clarke; James bond: double bass; Linda Ronstadt: background vocals; David Crosby: background vocals; Art Garfunkel: background vocals; Ned Doheny: background vocals; Glenn Frey: background vocals; Don Henley: background vocals.

Home By Dawn

Tracks: Go Ahead And Rain; Say You Will; I'll Take Care Of You; All For You; Night; Don't Know What I'm Gonna Do; Bad News; All I Want; Hearts Against The Wind —Linda Ronstadt/JD Souther; I'll Take Care Of You (Demo); Little Girl Blue; Girls All Over The World.

Personnel: John David Souther: vocals, piano, guitar, drums; Waddy Wachtel: guitar; Josh Leo: guitar; Billy Walker: guitar; David Hungate: bass; Vince Melamed: keyboards; Steve Goldstein: keyboards; Randy McCormick: keyboards; Don Henley: vocals; Timothy B. Schmit: vocals; Linda Ronstadt: vocals.

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