Stealers Wheel

Ferguslie Park

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Ferguslie Park was recorded after a dizzying string of changes in Stealers Wheel -- co-founder Gerry Rafferty's exit soon after finishing the group's first LP, his replacement by Luther Grosvenor and the delayed climb of "Stuck in the Middle with You," Rafferty's return, and the firing of all involved and the reduction of the group to its founding duo of Rafferty and Joe Egan. The resulting album, recorded with some nine support players (including ex-Herd members Gary Taylor and Andrew Steele, plus guitarists Joe Jammer and Bernie Holland), conductor/arranger Richard Hewson in support, and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller producing, is an upbeat if somewhat less focused work than its predecessor -- the mix of hard rock ("What More Could You Want") and lean, melodic songs ("Good Businessman") highlighted by lush choruses, and augmented with occasional spacy digressions such as the shimmering percussion-based interlude between "Wheelin'" and "Waltz (You Know It Makes Sense)," makes this a surprisingly diverse body of music. There wasn't a hit single to be found here, however, which meant that listeners had to find the album on their own; there are moments that anticipate (albeit distantly) Rafferty's solo work, including some well-placed sax breaks, and also jagged, bluesy guitar in all sorts of unexpected places, such as behind the tuneful organ on "Blind Faith" (and the "Shakin' All Over" riff even makes a veiled appearance on "Good Businessman").

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