Tuesday, September 21, 2010

David Ackles - David Ackles (us 1968 Elektra Lp)



David Ackles - David Ackles (us 1968 Elektra Lp)

Born: February 20, 1937 , Rock Island, IL, United States
Died: March 2, 1999 // Pasadena, CA, United States

Also Known As: David Thomas Ackles [birth name]

Genres: Singer/Songwriter, Americana

Tracklist:
01. The Road To Cairo
02. When Love Is Gone
03. Sonny Come Home
04. Blue Ribbons
05. What A Happy Day
06. Down River
07. Laissez-Faire
08. Lotus Man
09. His Name Is Andrew
10. Be My Friend

By the standards of any time during the last forty years, David Ackle's writing would stand pretty much alone. Leonard Cohen, in some ways, charts similar territory to Ackles. But the zones he sets his lyrics to must have seemed really perverse in the late sixties & early seventies when, as another reviewer astutely remarks, the nearest gifted equivalent was Jimmy Webb. Webb's star was on the rise though (through interpreters of his songs to be sure, pre-eminently Glen Campbell, as his own albums received much the same end as Ackles). his is the disc I've most often returned to though. 'Down River', Road to Cairo, & the awesome,'His Name Is Andrew'. Hardly a rollicking affair & none of it bouncing back into mind like the Webb catalogue with the perfume of the bouyant side of the 60s. Ackles was tuned to the darker undercurrent. For subtle nuance of lyric to piano, and range of feeeling in the darker, and tender zones of relationship, I feel he hasn't a rival. Comparisons, I note in other reviews, do injustice to Ackles, who is far less cumbersome.
~ (R.J. Moss).
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Review:
Road to Cairo (1970) is the parenthetical title that was given to David Ackles' debut by Elektra Records in much the same manner that the eponymous Elton John LP was referred to as "Your Song."
Although both artists have roots as singer/songwriters, Ackles' music is decidedly less pop-oriented and stylistically resembles Leonard Cohen and Tim Buckley with their darker and brooding melodies. Ackles' initial foray into pop music began as a staff songwriter for Elektra Records, which ultimately yielded him a multi-disc deal with the label. Although a far cry from being a bestseller, the title was universally lauded by hip music critics and likewise quickly became among the new breed of quiet and introspective artists to be prominently featured on "underground" FM album-oriented rock radio. "Road to Cairo" received significant airplay and became a minor hit not only for the author, but also for the Julie Driscoll-led version of Brian Auger & the Trinity. While the entire effort seems shrouded in a palpable, yet indefinable mood, the truly noir pieces -- such as the harrowing "Sonny Come Home" -- are complemented by the inviting "What a Happy Day" and the languid elegancy of "Blue Ribbons." The closest thing to an
uptempo number on this disc is the restrained camp of "Laissez-Faire." The exposition-laden lyrics are well suited for use as a show tune. Ironically, despite the midtempo attempt at jollity, Ackles' vocals negate the mood, dragging it into the delicate realm of dark comedy. His dramatic abilities no doubt hearken back to his days as a child actor as well as more concurrent studies in Edinburgh, where he obtained a degree in film and minored in theater as well as ballet and choreography. The combo on this release included a notable aggregate -- who were basically in-house Elektra musicians -- most of whom would go on to form the band Rhinoceros. Backing Ackles (piano/vocals) are Michael Fonfara (organ), former Daily Flash and short-lived Buffalo Springfield member Douglas Hastings (guitar), fellow Daily Flash bandmate John Keliehor (percussion), as well as concurrent Iron Butterflyconspirators Jerry Penrod (bass) and Danny Weis (guitar). They provide an even, if not somewhat uninspired, backdrop.
The artists' material and temperament would have arguably been best served in an even more sparse setting -- with Ackles accompanying himself, much in the spirit of Laura Nyro or early Tori Amos. That said, there is certainly much for the potential enthusiast to enjoy and is a
worthwhile christening of Ackles' talents.
~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide.

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