Gordon Lightfoot Album Reviews

by Noel Coppage - Stereo Review
Performance: Perfection-seeking
Recording: Excellent

        Class may be the ultimate resource in the music business, as it is in some others.  Here's an album that suggests that Gordon Lightfoot (temporarily, I hope) doesn't have as much to say as he once did: he's taken to making up rhymes about whales, and to writing melodies that sound too much like his earlier melodies.  But Lightfoot is such a classy songwriter that the album still contains more meat than you'll find in a lesser artist's once-in-a-lifetime spasm of high inspiration.  Lightfoot's songs are nothing if not tuneful, and his mellow vocals sound even better than they did in his last album.  His all-acoustic backing is marvelous.  Here, in "The Patriot's Dream" (probably the song Lightfoot worked hardest on in this group), which is one of those epics in which a slow song is sandwiched between two parts of a fast song, the instruments make the slow-to-fast changeover deliberately behind the meter, to reinforce the effect of lyrics that suggest a troop train, loaded with glory seeking hometown boys, picking up speed.
        Lots of meat here: "Ode To Big Blue" is constructed so that Lightfoot's rhythm guitar plays the same chord from start to finish while the other guitars are scrambling all over the scale; "Don Quixote" is outfitted by Bob Thompson with the most tasteful string backing since B.B. King's thrill departed.  It's that kind of record: no suprises, no innovations, just Lightfoot singing better, his band playing better, his favorite melodic and rhythmic ploys used a little more smoothly.
        Class.  It made Stan Musial's singles better than other people's home runs, and it makes Lightfoot's skill-polishing exercises better than other people's fearless forays.