Monday, August 30, 2010

Johnny Darrell - With Pen in Hand (United Artists, 1968)


By request.

I'll have to be honest and admit that I'm posting the review of this album not because it's one of my favorites, but as a result of someone asking me to do so. Put simply, With Pen in Hand is the most lackluster album that Johnny Darrell recorded during his tenure with United Artists in the 1960s. That said, I'm such a big fan of this criminally underrated country singer that I can still derive enjoyment from some of the cuts featured here, especially when his magnificent voice transcends the often-less-than-inspiring lyrics and/or arrangements. But even someone as talented as Darrell can't turn all of these lemons into lemonade.

A POMPOUS-LOOKING DON TWEEDY IN THE MIDDLE FLANKED BY
JOHNNY DARRELL (L) AND PRODUCER BOB MONTGOMERY (R)

The biggest problem with this LP is the fact that producer Bob Montgomery seemed intent on making it a thoroughly countrypolitan endeavor, which did not play to the singer's strengths. Not that Darrell was incapable of handling a sensitive song - just the opposite, in fact. However, when he did cover such material on previous albums, the performances still possessed at least a bit of a rough edge or some downhome twang. Such characteristics are regrettably all but absent on With Pen in Hand's 11 songs. Much of the blame can be assigned to arranger Bob Tweedy, whose superfluous strings often threaten to drown the already sentimental performances in syrupy instrumental bathos.


JOHNNY'S DAUGHTER LISA HELPS HIM SELECT A RECORD (HOPEFULLY, IT'S
AS LONG AS THE WINDS BLOW OR RUBY, DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN)

Predictably, country music listeners in the 1960s embraced this LP's title track more than they had any other of Darrell's more lyrically adventurous singles, helping send it to the #3 position on the C&W charts in 1968 and giving him his biggest commercial success. Although it's my least favorite of his hits, "With Pen in Hand" does have a certain orchestrated grandeur to it, and I guess that Tweedy's arrangements aren't so bad on this tune. The same can be said about the decent versions of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Crying" that appear on this record. However, the conductor's heavy-handed touch on "Poetry of Love," "How Little Men Care," "Child of Clay," "Little Things," and "Honey" steer these performances dangerously close to easy-listening territory. Nevertheless, they probably would make for good elevator music in Nashville office buildings. Sonny Curtis provides the arrangements on the remaining tracks and takes more of a folk-country approach, much to my relief. Other than the appealing "Destiny's Child" (Curtis' own composition), however, the song selection is not the most imaginative. "Gentle on My Mind" and "I Fought the Law" are both fine enough but suffer a bit from their overfamiliarity.

In short, a waste of the man's talent.


JOHNNY DARRELL DOES "WITH PEN IN HAND" ON TV -
AND IT'S ACTUALLY NOT LIP-SYNCHED

1. With Pen in Hand
2. Destiny's Child
3. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
4. Poetry of Love
5. Gentle on My Mind
6. How Little Men Care
7. Child of Clay
8. I Fought the Law
9. Little Things
10. Honey
11. Crying

4 comments:

  1. Vinyl rip

    MP3 @ 320 kbps

    http://rapidshare.com/files/415380873/Johnny_Darrell_-_With_Pen_In_Hand.zip.html, http://www.megaupload.com/?d=9HXK100N, http://depositfiles.com/en/files/a8y5psh9o, http://hotfile.com/dl/64981064/f375225/Johnny_Darrell_-_With_Pen_In_Hand.zip.html, http://www.zshare.net/download/797623743e67058a/, http://www.mediafire.com/?klgas5avt6y66fk#2, http://www.easy-share.com/1912077546/Johnny Darrell - With Pen In Hand.zip, http://www.2shared.com/file/olnECuih/Johnny_Darrell_-_With_Pen_In_H.html, http://www.filefactory.com/file/b31hb0a/n/Johnny_Darrell_-_With_Pen_In_Hand.zip

    Password: record-fiend.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Been waiting for this one ... thanks! It's beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not enough choices, man. Up it to a few more places! Up, Rover. Up! Up! Up!

    ReplyDelete