Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Alabama, and Island Studios. London.
Love and hatred were walking down a heavy road
Love was sweetly singing for she did not mind her load
Hatred looked across and said, "You make me sick to death!"
But, love just kept on walking while the wind stole hatred's breath.
I'd like to give special thanks to the Muscle Shoals Horns, and the English string players whose names I don't know individually.
Thanks to Chris for the Polaroid snaps.
Edsel CD Reissue Notes:
Jim Capaldi was born on 24th August 1944 in Evesham, Worcestershire, in the heart of the British Midlands. Born the son of a music teacher, initially his instrument of choice was piano, but it was ultimately as a drummer that Capaldi achieved musical notoriety. One of his first bands of note, The Hellions, featured future Traffic cohort Dave Mason and fellow Evesham boy Luther Grosvenor (Grosvenor would eventually carve a considerable reputation for himself as guitar slinger with Art, Spooky Tooth, Stealers Wheel, Mott The Hoople, and Widowmaker. For a more detailed telling of the Luther tale, and his 1970's alter ego Ariel Bender, see the Drop Out reissue of Art, Edsel reissues by Spooky Tooth, and 'Under Open Skies', Grosvenor's 1971 debut solo album, also on Edsel). Jim was also a member of Deep Feeling, with another future Trafficker, reedsman Chris Wood, whom, as we shall see, played a notable part on Capaldi's debut solo album (along with Dave Mason).
The midlands produced many fine musicians in the 1960's; indeed there was a bustling 'Brum Beat' scene, and The Spencer Davis Group were one of the leading lights in the movement. Their precociously talented vocalist Stevie Winwood was showing signs of restlessness with the Spencer Davis Group format by 1967, and it was with Capaldi, Mason, and Wood that 'little' Stevie launched Traffic that same year. The Capaldi/Winwood axis was remarkably fruitful, with Capaldi providing the lyric-writing half of the duo. The band were big news, especially in the USA. During Winwood's absence in 1971/72 due to a bout of peritonitis, Capaldi profitably spent his time cutting the debut solo album, 'Oh How We Danced'.
Traffic's ongoing success meant that corners weren't cut in the recording of the album; indeed. Island chief Chris Blackwell coproduced with Capaldi himself. It was recorded in December 1971, partly at Island Studios in London, but for the most part in the then-vogue Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. This particular era seems to have been typified by several studios undergoing hip periods, where record labels were willing to send artists to whatever the current flavour of the month locale was to get their take on that elusive 'sound'. Elton John and T. Rex, amongst others, recorded at the Chateau D'Herouville in France around this time (the 'Honky Chateau' of Elton John's mega-selling 1972 album); The Rolling Stones went to Dynamic Sound studios in Kingston, Jamaica, to cut 'Goat's Head Soup'. In Muscle Shoals' case, it was the clipped guitar, lean and spare bass and drums, all recorded open-miked, with amplifiers kept low, that gave the studios such a distinctive feel. Muscle Shoals' reputation as the birthplace to thousands of stone classic Soul and R&B hits must've appealed to a longtime groover such as Jim, and the decision to cut 'Oh How We Danced' there must not have been difficult to take. Artists as varied as Boz Scaggs, Wilson Pickett and Lulu (yes, Lulu) had all recorded at Muscle Shoals prior to Capaldi.
The only problem with having recorded some tracks in Muscle Shoals and some tracks in London, with local musicians, is that there are occasional moments of unevenness on 'Oh How We Danced'. That having been said, aiding and abetting Capaldi on some numbers were his fellow Traffic members Rebop, Chris Wood, Ric Grech and Jim Gordon, as well as occasional assists from slumming Brummies Trevor Burton (who had long since departed from The Move) and Mike Kellie (now sessioneering following the stop/start nature of Spooky Tooth's career). Also making a trenchant contribution to the album was Free lead guitarist Paul 'Koss' Kossoff. Free had split in May '71, although soon to reform - Koss was busying himself with session work as well as having put together the 'Kossoff-Kirke-Tetsu-Rabbit' album. The then-ubiquitous backing vocal team of Sue and Sunny contribute a cameo as well.
Making up the other part of an intriguing 'album of two halves' was The Muscle Shoals house band, including the classic bass and drums team of David Hood and Roger Hawkins, guitarist Jimmy Johnson and keyboardsman Barry Beckett, who provide some lean, spirited musical backdrops on 'Danced'. This is immediately apparent on the album's lead-off cut, 'Eve'. A surprisingly tender ballad, it builds from a gentle piano motif from Barry Beckett, and it's graced with a simple, but particularly apt guitar solo from Johnson and a tasteful Hammond organ track from a recuperating Stevie Winwood. The Muscle Shoals Horns are also in evidence, adding tasteful brass charts to the song's coda. It was chosen for release as a single, unsurprising because of its melodic appeal, and managed to garner considerable Radio 1 airplay in the Spring of 1972, without hitting commercial paydirt in the UK. It did do considerably better in the USA, however reaching the top 100.
The soulful, slow-burning 'Big Thirst' anticipates the sound of Eric Clapton's mid-70's solo albums, with it's neo-gospel mood, Sue & Sunny providing suitably sanctified backing vocals. There's some pithy guitar from Paul Kossoff in there as well. The swinging 'Love Is All You Can Try' is a classic Muscle Shoals shuffle, with a great tack piano solo from Beckett, the resident horn section driving the whole thing in fine style. 'Last Day Of Dawn' is propelled along on a restless rhythm, marred for me by an occasionally intrusive string arrangement from Harry Robinson.
'Don't Be A Hero' gets things back on track - a great descending piano sequence and some superbly atmospheric Hammond organ meld beautifully around Capaldi's understated vocal, with a positively sulphurous guitar solo from Dave Mason and a great, supremely subtle string arrangement to make for one of 'Oh How We Danced's highlights. It's a fine piece, and worth the price of admission alone.
'Open Your Heart' is very Traffic-ish, hardly a surprise considering that he's backed by the band on the track, but it's lissom, upful feel comes as lighter relief after 'Don't Be A Hero'. 'How Much Can A Man Really Take' features one of Capaldi's most soulful vocals on the album, as well as an extended Kossoff guitar break that will be eminently digable to Free fans. Koss tears off a typically fiery solo on the album's title (and closing) track, the Chaplin/Al Jolson standard, done soulfully tongue-in-cheek by all concerned, and it works very well.
All in all, 'Oh How We Danced' was a very satisfying opening solo foray for Jim Capaldi; it sold well in the States, making a follow-up likely, Traffic commitments allowing. That follow-up - the album 'Whale Meet Again' is reissued along with this album, as well as his third solo excursion 'Short Cut Draw Blood' - the story will be continued...
Also on EDSEL from the vaults of ISLAND RECORDS:
THE ALAN BOWN Listen + Stretching Out (EDCD 362)
AMAZING BLONDEL Evensong (EDCD 458)
AMAZING BLONDEL Fantasia Lindum (EDCD 459)
AMAZING BLONDEL England (EDCD 501)
AMAZING BLONDEL Blondel (EDCD 460)
AMAZING BLONDEL Englishe Musicke (A Compilation) (EDCD 365)
ART Supernatural Fairy Tales (DOCD 1987)
JIM CAPALDI Oh How We Danced (EDCD 502)
JIM CAPALDI Whale Meat Again (EDCD 503)
JIM CAPALDI Short Cut Draw Blood (EDCD 504)
WYNDER K. FROG Out Of The Frying Pan (EDCD 461)
GRIMMS Grimms + Rocking Duck (EDCD 370)
LUTHER GROSVENOR Under Open Skies (EDCD 364)
IF If (EDCD 505)
IF If 2 (EDCD 506)
ILLUSION Out Of The Mist + Illusion (EDCD 369)
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Earthspan (EDCD 360)
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND No Ruinous Feud (EDCD 367)
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND Hard Rope And Silken Twine (EDCD 368)
SPEEDY KEEN Y'Know Wot I Mean? (EDCD 462)
RONNIE LANE Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance (EDCD 463)
RONNIE LANE One For The Road (EDCD 464)
MIKE McGEAR Woman (EDCD 507)
ROGER McGOUGH Summer With Monika (EDCD 508)
THE METEORS In Heaven (EDCD 509)
MOTT THE HOOPLE Mott The Hoople + Mad Shadows (EDCD 361)
NIRVANA The Story Of Simon Simopath (EDCD 465)
NIRVANA All Of Us (EDCD 466)
PATTO Roll 'Em Smoke 'Em, Put Another Line Out (EDCD 510)
QUINTESSENCE Epitaph For Tomorrow (DOCD 1986)
BARRY REYNOLDS I Scare Myself (EDCD 511)
SCAFFOLD Fresh Liver (EDCD 512)
SHARKS First Water + Jab It In Yore Eye (MAUCD 628)
SPOOKY TOOTH It's All About (EDCD 467)
SPOOKY TOOTH The Last Puff (EDCD 468)
THE THIRD WORLD Aiye - Keta (EDCD 513)
TRAMLINE Somewhere Down The Line (EDCD 469)
VINEGAR JOE Six Star Gypsies (EDCD 359)
DARRYL WAY Concerto For Electric Violin (EDCD 514)
ROBIN WILLIAMSON Myrrh (EDCD 366)
(P) 1972 Issued under licence from Island Records Ltd.
(C) 1996 Island Records Ltd.
Edsel Records is a division of Demon Records Ltd.
Manufactured in Germany.
All rights of the manufacturer and of the recorded work reserved.
Unauthorised public performance, broadcasting, copying and rental of this record prohibited.
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