Danny O'Keefe

Classics

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AllMusic Review by

Finally. There has been a deep need for a comprehensive CD retrospective of Seattle songwriter Danny O'Keefe's Warner Brothers' years for a long time. While it's too bad it's a limited edition, as all of Rhino Handmade's products are, and only available on the internet, it's what we have and it's damn well worth celebrating. O'Keefe is a songwriter of almost staggering ability and range. Whether it's rock & roll, pop, country, blues, jazz -- he has written in all of these languages and more, and he has done it with elegance and style, and a trademark lyrical and melodic gift. These 21 tracks, recorded between 1971 and 1979, go far beyond the single "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" (included here), which was a smash for him in 1972, and "The Road," which was scored for Jackson Browne on Running on Empty. Here are the definitive versions of songs that many others have recorded, There's the greatest divorce song of all time in "Quits," the drifty, blessed-out luxury that is "Magdalena," the jazzed-up blues of "I'm Sober Now," the funky, country-rock of "So Long Harry Truman," the shimmering love song pop of "Islands," the jug band bluesy ragtime in "Jimmy Hoffa Mem. Bldg. Blues," or the wrangling, Caribbean inflected "The Street" which closes the set -- and these are only a few of the highlights in this 22-cut bounty. O'Keefe is a songwriter's scribe; he understands the entire historical trajectory of American popular music, and articulates all of it though a prose style in which he can write in first, second, or third person narrative with heart, as well as with irony, presence, swagger, and verve; all the time writing out killer hooks. The sound on this set is wonderful and the extensive liner notes by Scott Schindler make this an essential collection for anyone interested in singer/songwriters, and a bliss-fest for O'Keefe fans.

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