Gordon Lightfoot

Salute

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By the time of his 1983 release, Salute, Gordon Lightfoot was well on the downside of his commercial success, but personally, the period was something of a turning point for him. Lightfoot had overcome a drinking problem and was on the rebound from having divorced his wife. Salute finds the singer revivified, and co-producer Dean Parks has toughened up his sound with '80s synthesizers and electric guitar. The results are mixed: Tracks like "Salute (A Lot More Livin' to Do)," "Someone to Believe In," "Without You," and "Broken Dreams" -- spruced-up and bristling as they are -- didn't yield any hit material. That being said, the attempt to update Lightfoot's sound wasn't as tasteless or as disastrous as it might have been. Most of the material is listenable enough and stays true to Lightfoot's long string of mature, emotionally sensitive songwriting ("Gotta Get Away"). On the subtler numbers where the production is toned down, a few gems emerge: "Whispers of the North" and "Knotty Pine" are beautiful odes to Canadian nature, and "Tattoo" is a bona fide winner of a love song that deserves more attention than it ever got. While Salute failed to reverse Lightfoot's commercial fortune, it's far from an embarrassment and the Lightfoot faithful should seek it out. Formerly out of print, Rhino reissued it on CD in 2002.

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