Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Way Before Boat Drinks & Cheeseburgers in Paradise...

or, I Am A Parrothead, Hear Me Skwawk

Sometimes I make the dumbest rules for myself. If I was on a roadtrip I'd be spinning music non-stop. But chillin' at home -- only 1 featured album or show a day. With all the music I'd like to listen to, I'm figurin' I've gotta live about, oh, another 280 years, give or take a few.

In any case, I've always spent time in the latter half of Buffett's career so how about going allll the back, way before Margaritaville...

Jimmy Buffett

Down To Earth

1970 debut

The Christian?
Ellis Dee (He Ain't Free)
Richard Frost
The Missionary
A Mile High In Denver
The Captain And The Kid
Captain America
Ain't He A Genius
There's Nothin' Soft About Hard Times
I Can't Be Your Hero Today
Truckstop Salvation

Quite an interesting (and now Out of Print) album here from Jimmy from quite a few years ago. This is long before Margaritaville, Parrotheads, and the signature Jimmy beach sound we know now. I've often heard this described as a country music album but I'm not so sure. There is electric guitar heard quite well in only a song or two while the predominant sound is mellow and acoustic. There are feelings of country in only maybe a couple of tunes. The rest is actually closer to Bob Dylan, leaning more towards a folk sound than Nashville country, and at some times even kind of Steven Stills-ish. And throughout it all, very recognizable hints of Sailors, Fins and Boat Drinks come shining through, easily to pick out. The playing is sharp between Jimmy and his backup band and the lyrics to these songs really stand out. Definitely no fluff or filler to be found. This is Jimmy's past and his future all rolled into one great package of music.

From inside the CD insert:

We are all familiar with the Caribbean-soaked, marimba-enhanced music of that Son of a Son of a Sailor, Jimmy Buffett. As a major performer, Jimmy can claim superstar fees and play to SRO audiences. However, his music retains a certain intimacy and hale-fellow-well-met humor that would be out of place in a harbor-side bar in the Keys. In his own words, he is a "professional misfit" and doesn't let his education get in the way of his music.

Born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Jimmy inherited his love of the sea and music from his much-adored grandfather, Captain James Delaney Buffett. Their relationship would be captured in song in "The Captain And The Kid," written shortly after the senior Buffett dies (and featured on this album.) Jimmy attended Auburn University in Mississippi, but music soon took center stage and he dropped out. In order not to have to fight in Vietnam, he enrolled in Pearl River Junior College in Pearlville, Mississippi, with the intention of becoming a journalist. While there, he became a member of a folk trio and got an early taste of playing before an audience. When he got married, Jimmy decided to return to the university to get his degree, attending the University of Southern Mississippi. However, music was still his priority and after joining the folk group, the Upstairs Alliance, he spent more time in New Orleans than on campus, getting a regular gig at the Bayou Room on Bourbon Street. In 1960, he did graduate with a B.S. degree in history and journalism.

It was while playing around New Orleans and the Gulf Coast that Jimmy met Milton Brown, who was dabbling at songwriting and owned a small recording studio. With Milton's help, Jimmy recorded his first single, "Abandoned On Tuesday," which was sold at gigs. Milton then got a writing deal with Snuff Garrett and went on to write, among others, "Every Which Way But Loose."

Jimmy signed with the Andy Williams owned label, Barnaby Records and in 1970 released his debut single, "The Christian" / "Richard Frost" (both on this album.) The label released two more Buffett singles that year: "He Ain't Free" / "There Ain't Nothing Soft About Hard Times" and "Captain America" / "Truckstop Salvation." In 1971, Jimmy moved to Nashville but found no interest in his songs and became a reviwer for Billboard magazine. However, he caught the attention of singer, songwriter, producer, Buzz Cason. In 1972, Buzz recorded on the Caprice Label, "Heavy Dudes And Heartaches," a song he had co-penned with Jimmy. He then persuaded Tompall and the Glaser Brothers to record "The Christian" and "Tin Cup."

This was the year that Barnaby decided the time was right to release Jimmy's debut album, Down To Earth. It was a mix of his released sides plus others, all penned or co-written by Jimmy. Although a year before his chart debut with "The Great Filling Station Holdup" and two years before his chart breakthrough with "Come Monday," this early material bears the stamp of the embryonic Jimmy Buffett. I once described Jimmy as the nearest to Ernest Hemingway with music. He eventually became the essence of deep sea fishing; on this, the re-release of his debut trawl (plus some extra lures), Jimmy Buffett has baited his hooks well and was waiting for the big one.

Barry McCloud
May 13, 1998

320 kbps dload
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay, so the CD liner notes supposedly read that JB got his BS in journalism in 1960(!) If that's true, then he was about 13 years old. Ain't he a genius?

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated