Make a Little Magic/Jealousy

Make a Little Magic/Jealousy

by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
     
 
In 2006, BGO released the Dirt Band's 1980 album Make a Little Magic and its 1981 follow-up Jealousy as a two-fer. The extent to which these two soft rock records aren't taken seriously is telegraphed by the liner notes to the 2006 BGO two-fer, which is a very good biography by John Tobler...but the

Overview

In 2006, BGO released the Dirt Band's 1980 album Make a Little Magic and its 1981 follow-up Jealousy as a two-fer. The extent to which these two soft rock records aren't taken seriously is telegraphed by the liner notes to the 2006 BGO two-fer, which is a very good biography by John Tobler...but the albums themselves only take up a paragraph of the eight pages of notes! They may not be well-regarded but they're not bad artifacts of their time. Firmly entrenched in the mellow SoCal groove they established since truncating their name, the Dirt Band continued to roll softly on Make a Little Magic, their 1980 follow-up to their modest 1979 hit An American Dream. Thanks to the Rodney Crowell-penned title track, An American Dream gave the Dirt Band their first single to flirt with the Top Ten since "Mr. Bojangles," as "An American Dream" peaked at 13, but Make a Little Magic actually wound up charting higher than its predecessor, reaching 62 where Dream went to 76. "Make a Little Magic" followed the template of the sweet, soft "American Dream" to a tee, thanks in part to backing vocals from Nicolette Larson, who also reappears on "Do It! (Party Lights)," another minor soft rock gem. About half of Make a Little Magic easily fits within the parameters of super-slick soft rock, but there are times that the Dirt Band pushes a little harder, harnessing a bit of an arena rock edge here and there, notably on the guitar-heavy "Badlands" (not a Springsteen cover), "Anxious Heart," and "High School Yearbook" an agreeably silly subversion of rah-rah nostalgia that finds cheerleaders turning into call girls while "macho Johnny" starts wearing little sister's clothes "wrapped up in a world of pantyhose/but he's doing what he wants to." While the intent of the increased energy is appreciated -- as is the delicate acoustic closer "Mullen's Farewell to America," a passing nod to their more progressive beginnings -- the album is at its best when things are a little bit softer, whether it's on that pair of Larson-graced pop tunes or the lightly skipping "Too Good to Be True," even if occasionally the group seems just a bit too stuck in their soft groove, as they do on "Leigh Anne." Picking up on the slightly increased rock & roll energy of 1980s Make a Little Magic, the Dirt Band delivers their liveliest album in years with Jealousy. Not that the band abandons the soft rock that's been their stock in trade since 1978 -- with its thick gloss of keyboards, precise grooves, and punchy guitars, there's no mistaking this for anything but the work of slick studio pros -- but the emphasis has shifted ever so slightly from mellow love songs to tight rock & pop. At times, it seems like the group flirts with then new wave oldies of Rockpile -- "Too Close for Comfort" is a terrific little rocker that suggests a stiffer Nick Lowe -- but when they choose to rock, the Dirt Band winds up with a big, shiny sound designed for an AOR hit that they never quite mustered. That hit never came because while they nailed the sound -- this captures how early '80s mainstream pop
ock felt -- they never quite got the right set of hooks, coming close on the reasonably propulsive "Catch the Next Dream," but the strongest melodies on Jealousy come from the softer numbers or the ones that thread a bit of the earliest bluegrass influence back in, as on the quite appealing closer "Easy Slow." All this leaves the impression that the Dirt Band was ready to stretch out and try something new -- or at least give themselves a vehicle where they could play a little more freely than what the strict pop tunes gave them -- but they were neither ready to return to their roots or to fully rock, so they wind up sounding best on the soft rock that has been their comfort zone for a few years now.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/19/2006
Label:
Bgo - Beat Goes On
UPC:
5017261207364
catalogNumber:
736
Rank:
54258

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Primary Artist
Kenny Loggins   Background Vocals
Nicolette Larson   Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
John McEuen   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Lap Steel Guitar,5-string Banjo,Guitar (12 String Electric),Group Member
Rosemary Butler   Background Vocals
Bob Carpenter   Rhythm Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Jimmie Fadden   Harmonica,Vocals,Harmonica (Electric),Group Member
Garth   Violin,Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Viola,Group Member
Hayden Gregg   Background Vocals
Jeff Hanna   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Group Member
Richard Hathaway   Electric Bass,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
David James Holster   Background Vocals
Steve Lukather   Vocals
John Macy   Pedal Steel Guitar
Bryan Savage   Saxophone
Rick Shlosser   Percussion,Drums
M.L. Benoit   Percussion,Conga

Technical Credits

Bob Edwards   Producer,Engineer
Jeff Hanna   Producer
David James Holster   Composer
William McEuen   Executive Producer,Art Direction
Jeff Silbar   Composer
Richie Cicero   Engineer
John Tobler   Liner Notes
Dean Torrence   Original Graphics
John Van Hamersveld   Package Concept
Nick Rozsa   Original Photography

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