JIM CAPALDI – The Contender

Polydor 1978 / Esoteric 2014

JIM CAPALDI - The Contender

The Contender

Turning clamor into glamor, Mr. Fantasy embraces the groove of the day and dances the blues away.

There were many a mile to freedom between 1975’s “Short Cut Draw Blood” and its follow-up, the former signaling Jim Capaldi’s exit from the shadow of TRAFFIC and the latter establishing him a solo artist proper. This album’s inherent defiance is best demonstrated by its title track, an outtake from Jim’s previous LP which was given new lyrics – but retained Paul Kossoff’s molten guitar from the more intimate original version released posthumously on the “Koss” compilation as “You And Me” – and a new shine, and such a glitterball shift casts its reflection all over the record. As a drummer Capaldi knew assertive properties of the four-to-the-floor rhythm very well and, come the disco age, put it to a good use, although he abandoned the stool now, so the splinters of light funk flicker across “Sealed With A Kiss” wrapped in Harry Robinson’s string arrangement to approach the Philly sound that makes the result a quite superficial attempt to replicate the chart success of “Love Hurts” from a few years back.

Now, from the start Jim’s vocals are slightly drowned into the glimmery riff of “Dirty Business” over which Chris Parren’s piano lays a nice boogie, yet the sweet tinsel nicely suits the balladry of “Game Of Love” possessing a magically dramatic central uplift – pure Capaldi! – and “Daughter Of the Night” that became a main song on the album’s American variant, with a different set of pieces, and ones not appearing on the European vinyl complement this reissue. Of those, the infectious “A Good Love” stands out and could be a floor-filler even today, while the tasty smut of “I’m Gonna Do It” shows atomic energy bubbling under the polished veneer and Steve Winwood’s priapic six-string solo. Typical for their era, some cuts fared better on-stage, in more organic setting: a bonus disc with a rare contemporary concert, where TRAFFIC’s “Rock & Roll Stew” rubs shoulders with the then-unreleased “Electric Nights” and “Wild Dogs” as well as a great selection from the first Capaldi LPs, strips “Elixir Of Life” of its gritty clavinet to render the delivery soulful and match the low-burning beauty of “Short Ends” shot through with Alan Spenner’s bass. It also punctures the delicate, folk-tinged studio B-side “Had A Dream Today” balancing defiance and sensitivity, the gist of Jim.


September 2, 2014

Category(s): Reissues

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