For 50 years, David Lindley has been one of the most respected – and commercially overlooked – musicians in Rock music. Sure, he made a name for himself with the completely original Psych outfit Kaleidoscope back in the ‘60s and he has been one of the most in-demand session musicians since the ‘70s (Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Rod Stewart, Graham Nash, The Youngbloods, Bruce Springsteen, Rickie Lee Jones, etc.) yet he has never received his due as a solo artist. However, his output has been so eclectic over the years that some of us are still trying to catch up! Do yourself a favor and read up on his career on Wikipedia or elsewhere on the ‘net. For now, I’m going to focus on a few of his ‘80s solo releases…
At the beginning of the ‘80s, he released two great studio albums with his backing band El Rayo-X – EL RAYO-X (1981) and WIN THIS RECORD (1982) - before disappearing off the U.S. record shelves until his 1988 album, VERY GREASY. What some casual fans don’t know is that he released two import-only albums that have just been issued in the States for the very first time courtesy of Wounded Bird Records!
Released in 1983, EL-RAYO LIVE is an excellent mini album recorded on tour while the band was promoting WIN THIS RECORD. “Wooly Bully” opens this release and pretty much sets the mood while riveting live favorite “Rag Bag” is a gem. These live versions of tracks like “Talk To The Lawyer,” “Turning Point,” “Spodie” and “Mercury Blues” are raw and loose, often longer and more playful than the studio versions. Thankfully, they don’t stray too far, arrangement-wise, from the familiar album versions although the extended workouts do add an exciting element to the songs. My only complaint is that the original release wasn’t longer! A definite must for those who want to enjoy Lindley in a rockin’ and bluesy mood.
MR. DAVE is an entirely different beast. Released only in Japan in 1985, this full-length finds Mr. Lindley in a Pop mood. Though known for his live performances with a variety of instruments, MR. DAVE finds Lindley without the power of El Rayo-X but with more studio equipment at his disposal. While purists may turn their noses up at the thought of Lindley going ‘Pop’, this album is a wonderful addition to his catalog. With melodic hooks that stick in your head and very earnest and relaxed performances, MR. DAVE sounds like it could have been comprised of excellently-produced demos that El Rayo-X never got around to beefing up. “Pretty Girl Rules The World” is keyboard heavy but has some great hooks. Most of the other tracks – including “Truly Do,” “Look Bad, Feel Better,” and “Follow Your Heart” - could have made it onto any of ‘80s studio albums had El Rayo-X added their muscle. While the album does feature performances by Jorge Calderon, Danny Kortchmar, Bob Glaub, Rick Marotta, Bill Payne and others, the album definitely sounds ‘of its time’ but Lindley’s unique style and vocal performances still shine through. One of my favorite Lindley albums, Mr. Dave is a splendid collection of songs and another must-have for Lindley-philes.
Thank goodness – and Wounded Bird - that these are now available in the U.S. at reasonable prices for the first time in 30 years. Long may Mr. Dave rock!
Peace, love and pancakes,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee