Friday, April 29, 2011

Bob Weir: "Heaven Help The Fool" (1978) CD Review

This album is a departure from the Grateful Dead for Bob Weir and his songwriting partner, John Barlow.

This album is more of a departure from the Grateful Dead than Bob Weir's earlier solo efforts. First of all, no other members of the Dead appear on any track of this album (unlike, for example, Ace). Secondly, these songs for the most part were not performed by the Dead in concert, as much of the other work by Bob Weir was (for example, "Lazy Lightning" and "Supplication" from the first Kingfish album).

However, Bob did write these songs with his regular songwriting partner, John Barlow, who wrote the lyrics to many of the Grateful Dead songs. (The two exceptions on this album are the two covers: "Easy To Slip" and "I'll Be Doggone.")

"Bombs Away"

The album starts with "Bombs Away," one of the best songs on the album. It's clear that this record is a product of its time - the late 1970s - with disco-like sections.

"Easy To Slip" Little Feat Cover

"Easy To Slip" is one of two cover songs on this album. This is a Little Feat song. It has interesting backing vocals by Bill Champlin, Carmen Twilly and Lynette Gloud. It's the vocals that really drive this song. The lyrics start, "It's so easy to slip/It's so easy to fall/And let your memory drift/And do nothin' at all."

"Salt Lake City"

Of all the songs on this album, "Salt Lake City" sounds the most like something the Dead might have done at this time. And in fact it was actually played by the Grateful Dead once in concert, but not in 1978. The Dead opened the show with this song on February 21, 1995 at a show in Salt Lake City.

"Heaven Help The Fool" Title Track
"Heaven Help The Fool" is a song that the Grateful Dead did perform in concert. This one they did several times, all in 1980. Interestingly, they only performed it as part of their acoustic sets that started many of their concerts that year.

The short instrumental opening sounds almost exactly like the opening of the Grateful Dead's "Saint Of Circumstance," which was released on their 1980 album, Go To Heaven. That instrumental bit is repeated twice more in the song.

"I'll Be Doggone"
"I'll Be Doggone" is the second cover song on this album. It was written by Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Marv Tarplin. It was recorded by Marvin Gaye and released as a single in January of 1965.

The album concludes with "Wrong Way Feelin'," one of the best songs on the album. Certainly, this one rocks.

Musicians Include David Foster

As already noted, no other members of the Grateful Dead appear on this album. Bob Weir of course does lead vocals and guitar. David Foster plays keyboards. That name should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about music. David Foster has played has produced albums and played with everyone from Neil Diamond to Donovan. He also wrote the score to the film St. Elmo's Fire.

Mike Baird plays drums. He also played drums with Rick Springfield and Eddie Money. Nigel Olsson plays drums on "Easy To Slip" and "I'll Be Doggone." Mike Porcaro plays bass on most of the songs (he also played bass with Toto). Dee Murrey plays bass on "Easy To Slip." Bill Champlin plays keyboards on "Easy To Slip" and "I'll Be Doggone" and plays organ on "Salt Lake City." Tom Scott plays saxophone on "Bombs Away," "Salt Lake City" and "Heaven Help The Fool." (Tom also played with the Blues Brothers Band.) Waddy Wachtel plays guitar on "Easy To Slip," "I'll Be Doggone" and "Shade Of Gray."

Backing vocalists include Tom Kelly, Bill Champlin, Carmen Twilly and Lynette Gloud.

CD Track List

  1. Bombs Away
  2. Easy To Slip
  3. Salt Lake City
  4. Shade Of Grey
  5. Heaven Help The Fool
  6. This Time Forever
  7. I'll Be Doggone
  8. Wrong Way Feelin'

Album Released On Arista Records

Bob Weir and John Barlow wrote all of the songs on this album, with the exceptions of "Easy To Slip" and "I'll Be Doggone." "Heaven Help The Fool" was released January 13, 1978 on Arista Records, which also released Grateful Dead records starting with 1977's "Terrapin Station."

No comments:

Post a Comment