Jonathan Edwards

Lucky Day

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Lucky Day is an important 15-song live document of Jonathan Edwards' music, recorded at what was a wonderfully intimate little venue in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, the late, lamented Performance Center. This perfect live show is enhanced by the presence of Orphan members Eric Lilljequist, Dean Adrien, Dave Conrad, and Bobby Chouinard, along with friends like NRBQ's Al Anderson, pianist Bill Elliot, violinist/pianist Stuart Schulman, Lynnie Dall, and Bill Elliot. Though some of the material would naturally show up on other live discs by Edwards -- "Shanty" appearing on 1980's Live and "Lucky Day" on 2000's Cruising America's Waterways -- these takes have staying power, making this one of Edwards' most satisfying releases. The title track, "Lucky Day," works so much better with Orphan backing him, and the violins on M. McKinney's "Sometimes" flow beautifully next to Edwards' soulful voice. "Hit Parade of Love" is a hootenanny, while "Stop and Start It All Again" is one of the singer's best country-pop numbers. There is country-rock all over this folksinger's repertoire, and "That's What Our Life Is" deserved to be a country & western hit. The covers of "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame" and Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again" give a glimpse of the range of Edwards' artistry. It's interesting to note that Orphan labelmates the Poppy Family covered this same Merle Haggard tune on Poppy Seeds, along with an Al Anderson number a couple of years before this release. At the time that Terry Jacks of the Poppy Family was riding the airwaves with "Seasons in the Sun," Orphan and Jonathan Edwards recorded this album (on March 22 and 23 of 1974). The medley of "You Are My Sunshine" into Edwards' own smash "Sunshine" -- including the lyrics he brought on-stage during this era ("Nixon's got cards he ain't showing") -- turned out to be a good bit of prophecy. Half the album contains covers and half is comprised of Jonathan Edwards originals, like the country-folk "Give Us a Song," which begins the disc, and the short and lively "Everybody Knows Her," which ends side one. The cover of the Chi Lites' 1971 hit "Have You Seen Her" is complete parody, and that's the one downside -- a soulful reading of the tune by Jonathan Edwards might have had chart potential. "Don't Cry Blue," the other M. McKinney title, brings the energy level up, while C. Dall's "Nova Scotia" shows Edwards in that sincere light his fans adore. Reopening these tapes recorded by legendary engineer Jay Messina (who worked with Aerosmith, among others ) to expand this album and create a double CD of the performances would be a treasure. Not only is this a great moment in time for Jonathan Edwards, it displays the many talents of the hugely underrated Orphan and captures an important period in Boston music history at a fun venue which no longer exists.

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