Victim of Life's Circumstances was Delbert McClinton's first solo album and his debut for the ABC label that signed him in 1974 after the dissolution of Delbert and Glen. Even at this early date McClinton, as a solo artist, arrived fully developed. From the outset McClinton's many influences and style masteries are present. The album brought questions at the time -- in an era of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run and the Marshall Tucker Band topping the charts (as well as David Bowie's latter-day glam experiments) -- like "Who is this guy?" and "What's he trying to do?" On this album McLinton took hard stompin' honky tonk, including the tile track, his first solo recording (and most Texas country version) of "Two More Bottles of Wine," "Object of My Affection," and "Real Good Itch," which rocked harder than anything coming out of Nash Vegas at the time and, other than Montgomery Gentry, rocked harder than any country music coming from there today. In addition, there was the nasty, funky soulful R&B of "Honky Tonkin' (I Guess I Done Me Some)" with a horn section, Fender Rhodes pianos, and Hammond B-3s alongside acoustic and electric guitars, deep in the groove with a Texas drawl, punched in the cut by the horn charts. "Lesson in the Pain of Love," with its swirling horns and on-the-one funk, echos the Stax/Volt sound and features the most out-of-character soulful backing vocals Janie Fricke ever cut. Reggie and Chip Young (who produced the set) distorted the hell out of their guitars and made everything greasy and edgy. "Solid Gold Plated Fool" borrows the rhythm from the Band's "Up on Cripple Creek" and turns it into a groove number with keyboard and brass popping in the margins and McClinton's voice digging deep for both the humor and pathos in the song. McClinton's harmonica on the final cut, "Troubled Woman," is pure gold. It floats in understated lines in the refrains and in the bridge and delves as deep into the blues as any white boy ever had the nerve to. McClinton comes off as not authentic, but awe inspiring. And top it off, despite a performance that delighted, confounded, and infuriated critics, McClinton wrote every track here. And despite the range, this is as focused a debut as you are likely to run across, not to mention one that will get you off your ass and moving.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek