Pure Prairie League,
All in Good Time
(Thirty Tigers, 2006)

More than 20 years have passed since Pure Prairie League released its Mementos album, so yes, this new recording has been a while in coming. Longtime fans with memories of the 1970s and early '80s will enjoy listening to these songs and thinking of the good old days, when LP covers were considered works of art that even Norman Rockwell would be proud of creating. Newcomers to Pure Prairie League may decide that these country-rockers are now landing firmly on the country side of the fence.

The CD includes 12 songs, and many have sing-along melodies and catchy lyrics. It won't take too many run-throughs before the listener will be able to keep up with them and enjoy the turns of phrase: "I'm gettin' over me gettin' over you" ("Gettin' Over You"); "You're still walking in my sleep, talking in my dreams" ("Walking in My Sleep"); "She's made it clear it wouldn't make any difference: if I'm still here tomorrow, she'd still be gone today" ("Here Tomorrow, Gone Today"); and "If you could say what I'm thinking, you'd say you're falling in love" ("If You Could Say What I'm Thinking").

Speaking of love -- 11 of the 12 songs are about it. Half of the songs lament over failed romances, three are more positive in nature and two tackle the intricacies of being in exclusive relationships. Only one of the tunes has a reflective, grownup slant to the lyrics, and that's "The Cost of Doing Business," which offers the kind of musing that aging and still-searching Baby Boomers will be able to relate to.

Most of the numbers were penned by guitarist and vocalist Craig Fuller, a founding member of PPL, who left in 1974 to form American Flyer and serve a stint with Little Feat. Here Fuller is reunited with PPL veterans Mike Reilly on bass and Michael Connor on keyboards. They are joined by Curtis Wright on guitar, Rick Schell on drums and Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar and accordion. Jonel Mosser adds a nice biting soprano descant to "Nothing like the Lonely."

It's especially poignant that the CD includes a song called "I Sure Do Miss You Now," because Michael Connor died before this album could be released. No doubt the recording is a bittersweet one for the group and diehard PPL fans.

The music itself sounds a lot like pure country, with good guitar work and expert harmonies in the vocals. Dancers so inclined could do a decent round of boot-scootin' to "Cajun Girl," which offers a Mississippi Delta rhythm complete with zydeco accordion. Kaplin's pedal steel work also supplies a mournful country twist to "Meant to Be," even though the song lyrics offer an optimistic view of a relationship. "If You Could Say What I'm Thinking" seems to end a bit abruptly, probably because it was recorded live and would have merely repeated and faded out on a typical rendering. But through it all, Fuller's vocal range seems not to have changed a bit since his "Fallin' In & Out of Love/Amie" days. You can't say that about many 1970s artists now.

The album cover art is in the old familiar PPL style. A mirrored pocket watch is open to reflect the image of cowboy Sad Luke, who is holding it. An additional view of Luke sitting in a bathtub, shaving, appears in the liner notes.

What we thought was country-rock back in the '70s is probably now considered to be just country; and to that end, Pure Prairie League delivers in All in Good Time. If you like catchy tunes, and upbeat selections mixed with a few slow ones, then this is a nice album you can sing or drive with. But beware: if you just broke up with someone, the lost-love songs on this CD will hit a little too close to the heart. And if by chance you are new to Pure Prairie League, then you need to get yourself to a music outlet and get hold of the 1972 Bustin' Out album. Play the second side of the 12-inch vinyl, or cuts 5-9 of the CD, and you'll understand how and why this band became as popular as it did. Here's hoping that popularity continues "for a while, maybe longer."

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Corinne H. Smith

16 June 2007

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