Gordon Lightfoot Album Reviews


        With his song "If You Could Read My Mind," Gordon Lightfoot holds the distinction of being one of Canada's first songwriters to have a hit single before the CRTC introduced the Cancon quotas in 1971.  Hence, if the cream always rises to the top, then the Orillia, Ontario native would have to be considered one of this country's premiere and most respected musical talents.
        Although his music always has fallen into the "soft" category, programmers who formatted that music form have previously been reluctant to play Lightfoot's new material, choosing instead to rely on his "oldies, goldies."  It's certainly an enigma for the singer/songwriter, who still resides in the fashionable Rosedale district of Toronto - yet it is one he intends to solve with his new album.
        It is one of the goals he set before embarking on East Of Midnight - to garner airplay for his singles and not neccesarily on the A/C or country charts.  His first single from this set, "Anything For Love" a collaboration with David Foster, climbed to NO. 14 position on the A/C charts and to NO. 39 on the singles chart as of August 20.
        "This album is different," Lightfoot explains.  "When I started to make this one, there was a question mark about whether it was practical to make another album or not."
        "So, I went down to Los Angeles and told the record company people, ' If I'm going to do this - then give me the ball and let me run with it.'  I wanted to make the album myself and I wanted to do it here in Canada.  So, I didn't have anyone to answer to or anyone to mess around with. I just got into it and made sure it was done right."
        Admitting the track done with Foster "drew instant attention" to the project, Lightfoot stresses, "the finish on this album and the quality of the material is going to make an important album out of this one.  Actually, we have a bit of a luxury going on here. We seem to be tearing up the A/C charts - and that's not a bad place to be."  He also hopes one of the songs will cross over "into the Top 40" and is quite sure it will eventually.
        "A/C is a good base to start with," he offers. "Country is not...because the stuff is simply not country music - even though it is getting played on those stations.  It's not meant to be a country album."
        "A Lesson In Love" for instance, features the first ever Lightfoot guitar solo captured on vinyl. "It's a better album than it would seem," he contends, "because of the other stuff that is out there.  The competition is vast and the game is good."
        Lightfoot took a 3 year respite between recording his previous album, Salute, and East Of Midnight, spending the majority of time whittling down approximately 50 "concept" songs to the present number.  Yet it was precisely due to the competition and the challenge they offered his pride that Lightfoot decided to re-enter the studio and record once again.  He recognizes also with today's softening formats his music will be listened to by a younger audience and in this respect he agrees he is fortunate that stations are demographically widening their audiences.
        "I think they (radio stations) are playing to the baby boomer audience and sure it's a young set, but I'm equally sure that demographically, they've got a 30 year span.  It's nice they're changing," he concludes, "for many years they wouldn't touch my stuff.  They were always pure rock and roll."

   RPM - Oct 1986