Ralph McTell

Right Side Up

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Following a stretch which included a world-wide, million-selling single ("Streets of London"), sold-out shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and a brief hiatus, Ralph McTell returned in 1976 with his eighth album, Right Side Up. McTell has always been an engaging singer, and his mournful, deliberate delivery, along with his gift for melody, is well suited to the record's quiet tales of love, friendship, and the working class. The production throughout is relatively understated, with a slight nudge toward the folk-pop acceptance of Warner Brothers labelmate James Taylor, including light strings, keyboards, tasteful bass, drums and backing vocals, which often support his acoustic guitar and vocal. This is especially evident on "Tequila Sunset," which would not have been out of place on many of Taylor's early- '70s records. At its best, as on the weary homesickness of "From Clare to Here," or the class dialogue "Chairman and the Little Man," there's a timeless, almost traditional bent to McTell's writing. Elsewhere, there's the occasional slip into typical singer/songwriter territory, but tracks such as the lovely and reflective "Naomi," the morning-after drone of "Country Boys," and respectable covers of Tom Waits and John Martyn, which bookend McTell's nine originals, help to lift Right Side Up above the ordinary. Originally not released in America, Right Side Up was reissued by Leola in 2001 (also issued as Weather the Storm in 1982 on McTell's own Mays label).

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