Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band


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Windfall was Rick Nelson's killer follow-up to his late-1972 album Garden Party, and it exceeded any creative expectations that the artist or his audience could possibly have had. It also featured a new version of his Stone Canyon Band, and a brace of original songs growing out of that new membership. Nelson, displaying more confidence than he'd had since the mid-1960s, delved not only into some achingly beautiful corners of country-rock, but also harder rocking territory and also more soul and funk-oriented sounds than anyone believed possible. Nelson and company start off with "Legacy," an original by new lead guitarist Dennis Larden, which picks up right where Garden Party left off and ought to have been a hit in its own right; then he pulls off one of the great transformations in rock & roll history, sounding tougher than tough on Nelson's own "Someone to Love," with some of the loudest guitar ever heard on one of his records, and then drifts into a seductive, bluesy country mode with elements of reggae in "How Many Times" (written by bassist De Witt White); Larden's volume-pedal dominated performance on "Evil Woman Child" is something else new to a Rick Nelson record, but no one could have been prepared for Nelson's vocal, bouncing across syllables like the best rappers of the 1980s; and Larden's "Don't Leave Me Here" brings us back to country-rock. Side Two hews closer to country-rock, starting with the superb rocker "Wild Nights in Tulsa" and getting better from there -- "I Don't Want to Be Lonely Tonight" even intersects with Creedence Clearwater Revival, or the Eagles in a harder-rocking moment, and "One Night Stand" is another hit that should have been, and "Windfall" is one of the best originals Nelson ever cut. It's all a pity that nobody was listening, because Windfall was the crowning glory of Nelson's albums for Decca, and as solid a piece of '70s music as any early rock & roller this side of Elvis Presley ever delivered.

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