After a successful run on both the Roulette and Dot Records labels, as well as a highly rated weekly music/variety television program, Jimmie F. Rodgers took his blend of folk and easy listening adult pop to A&M in 1967. Although it has become a favorite with enthusiasts in later years, when Child of Clay (1967) was initially issued, it barely made an impact on the LP charts (number 168). It was likewise the last that the artist would work on prior to a life-threatening confrontation with an off-duty policeman in late 1967. Rodgers' soft and supple vocals are instrumentally embellished by the scores of Mort Garson. However, the overbearing orchestral arrangements perhaps do more harm than good, as at times the vocalist sounds like he is in competition with them. Fortunately, this is the exception rather than the rule as evidenced by the delicate charm of "Turnaround" or the wispy "I Wanna Be Free." The latter may best be remembered by the heartfelt acoustic rendering that David Jones gave the Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart composition on the Monkees' 1967 self-titled debut disc. Both the darkly guilded "If I Were the Man" as well as the title track retain a modern sound that contrasts much of the other material on the album. This is especially true of "Child of Clay" with its socially conscious message and brooding backbeat that is always kept in check. On this tune, Garson's contributions work particularly well, recalling his collaboration with Glen Campbell on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Rodgers' semidramatic interpretation of Rod McKuen's "The Lovers" is equally suited to this release. The vocalist recalls his relationship with McKuen in the liner notes to the Child of Clay/Windmills of Your Mind (2003) Collectors' Choice Music two-fer, "When I was recording for Dot, Rod used to come to my office and play me every song he'd written." Their camaraderie had been mutually profitable as Rodgers had fairly substantial hits with both "The World I Used to Know" and "Two-Ten-Six-Eighteen." Sadly the same fate did not befall "The Lovers," which concludes this platter. After a recovery hiatus of almost two years, Rodgers would return for The Windmills of Your Mind (1969), which continues in the easy vein that began on this record.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer