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Okie—9

 

Released: 1973

1) Crying  2) I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)  3) Starbound  4) Rock and Roll Records  5) The Old Man and Me  6) Everlovin' Woman  7) Cajun Moon  8) I'd Like To Love You Baby  9) Anyway The Wind Blows  10) Precious Memories  11) Okie  12) I Got The Same Old Blues 

 

If “Really” was Cale’s “Bluegrass Album,” then this is his “Lyrics Album.”  On his previous two records the words were just kind of there…not really mattering, managing to stay out of the way of the sound.  On “Okie” though, Cale pens some of his most compelling story songs, writing clever slants on traditional phrasings.  These lyrics actually help to move the songs along, and only make his music that much stronger.

 

Crying” opens the album and has that slow, mellow, cool to it: bluesy and moody with the keyboards supplying the sluggish funk.  It is a typical Cale tune, meaning catchy, short, and great.  I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” is a country/rock song, with a slide guitar providing the roll.  Written by Rusty Gabbard and Ray Price (who?), it is all heehaw, hillbilly, dance-in-a-barn fun.  Starbound” is a Mid-Seventies radio-friendly ballad that somehow manages to be free of the typical cheese of the period.  It does have a little cheese, I guess, with an echo effect on Cale’s voice, and its lyrics about space travel, but it is just so ridiculously different from Cale’s usual style, that it is a real nice experimental piece with a relaxing quality. 

 

Rock and Roll Records” brings back the funk, but with a much more deliberate, trumpet dominated groove.  The lyrics here are about a record salesman: quaint and quick-witted.  Cale somehow manages to pack so much punch…so much attitude…so much feeling in these little moody two-minute masterpieces…truly this guy is one of the best songwriters out there.  The Old Man and Me” helps prove that point.  It has strange vocals that fade in and out, a crying steel guitar in the background, and lyrics that are absolutely captivating, describing mankind’s role with nature, and Americans’ role with mankind.  Another slightly atypical effort, but an excellent song nonetheless. 

 

More along the lines of his previous work, “Everlovin’ Woman” is a fun, 50s inspired, catchy little piano ditty.  Did I say catchy?  You’ll be singing this for weeks.  The much more Rhythm and Blues slanted, “Cajun Moon” follows.  It has a great bass in the background, swampy, but almost inaudible.  For the first time on the record, Cale lets rip with a great little solo too…and he sings this song better than most of his career.  I’d Like To Love You Baby” is a cute little unoriginal blues, happy, with great horns.  It isn’t the best song on the album, but it is still catchy, moody, and tranquil (particularly those insanely classy guitar fills near the end).  And the line “I'd like to love you baby and keep my other baby too” is pretty close to perfect.    

 

Anyway The Wind Blows” is a classic.  Frog-stomping, with this-way-that-way lyrics, it is the kind of song that even if it had one hundred verses, it would still be perfect.  It’s almost a rap song, well…a Southern charm filled rap song.  It rules in all ways possible, and might just be Cale’s signature tune that wasn’t covered by someone else.  The lyrics are some of the best of his career, with enough one-liners to keep you smiling:  

 

One two three four five six seven,

Well, you'd better change your ways or you won't get to heaven
Eight nine ten, gonna stop at eleven,

Eleven lays right there and rhymes with seven

 

Precious Memories” is a dreamy, harmony sung, country song.  There is nothing wrong with it, but it is just so generic, that it can’t help from being annoying (but catchy too).  The title track brings back some finger picking fun.  It is entirely instrumental, but has more attitude in its guitar than most bands can manage with all their screaming and pouting.  The closing “I Got The Same Old Blues” sounds like Ray Charles sitting in with Led Zeppelin: white-boy blues with an authentic aura.  This might be Cale’s all time best song…rocking, gripping, funky, chic.                   

 

How Cale is capable of going from laid back cool, to country bumpkin, to sincere balladeer, and back again, I’ll never know.  His skill and charm are draped all over this album, and the lyrics are the best yet of his career.  This sits snuggly right next to “Naturally” as the best Cale has to offer…diverse, stylish, filler-free, tuneful, fun, and above all else…great songwriting.  If you like Cale, this will undoubtedly be one of your favorites.

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