Light In The Attic Records recently rereleased Bobby Charles’ self titled record originally released in January of 1972. Bobby Charles may not be a household name but some of the players on this record probably all. Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Dr. John all make appearances but the strength of the album is Charles’s voice and songs. This is without a doubt, Essential Listening.
If you listen to my radio show at all you are most likely aware that I listen to as much old music as new music, moving in both directions constantly. One of the strongest differences I notice in records from different eras is the venue the songs and recordings were crafted for. This record is designed to be listened to at home. The songs are living room songs, songs with spaces in them, grooves that move subtly instead of in your face. Check out the bass work in the side A closer “All The Money” and the space between the notes in “I Must Be In A Good Place Now.”
So much of the music made today and written about here is created to be played live in a crowded bar. There is an onslaught and an immediacy to it, which I like as much as the next guy. But there is also the time for listening music and the self titled album from Bobby Charles has all the elements of an exceptional listening record. It’s low-down and grimy but with a tenderness that parallels your favorite sweet drunk. Now, all artists make their living from working the road and it’s natural that the art they create reflects that environment but it’s also nice to step away from that and listen to a record who’s songs shuffle along and into each other without the pretense of easy excitement.
Gabe (who I refuse to refer to as Wolf) once called me “the old guy at the back of all the good shows” and this review and album are clearly in that tradition. If your listening habits seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut look for something old instead of something new.
There are ten songs on this album and all ten are winners.