Friday, July 27, 2012

Linda Ronstadt: White Rhythm & Blues

Last week’s Friday Flipside was from The Souther, Hillman, Furay Band and it got me thinking about another Asylum Records artist, Linda Ronstadt. In 1978, Ronstadt released her “Living in the USA” album and the first single release was Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA.” While the “A” side was the hit and charted at #16, I was partial to the flip “White Rhythm & Blues.”

As a J.D. Souther composition, “White Rhythm & Blues” featured a Rhodes Piano lead by Don Grolnick. Dan Dugmore’s pedal steel guitar is heavily represented in the mix. I saw Linda in Huntington, WV in August 1978 during this tour, and I will have to say, that while she has a beautiful singing voice, she lacks stage presence. Her producer and percussionist, and former member of Peter and Gordon, Peter Asher and guitarist Waddy Wachtel made up for it with their ever present enthusiasm.

“Living in the USA” produced four singles in total. The others included her rendition of Smokey Robison’s “Ohh Baby Baby,” Doris Troy’s “Just One Look,” and Elvis Costello’s “Allison.” The later was the first 45 RPM picture disc that I ever purchased.

J.D. Souther’s Version

Souther recorded his own version of the song in 1979 as a duet with Phil Everly. The single, which appeared on his “You’re Only Lonely” album, did poorly charting at #106 in 1980.

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