Album Reviews


Jim Capaldi

Short Cut Draw Blood

RS: Not Rated


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Although it's still uneven, former Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi's third solo album is a distinct step forward from his first. Capaldi would like to be a diverse singer and writer but he's at his best when he hews to the rock mainstream. The best songs here, "Living on a Marble," "It's All Up to You," "Love Hurts" and the title track, are reminiscent of the idiosyncratic but energized basic rock of Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and even Eric Burdon. The backings, by the Muscle Shoals rhythm section aided by such English session stalwarts as Steve Winwood (playing at his best in years), Paul Kosoff and particularly Chris Spedding, are inventive and sympathetic. Only on the semiobligatory reggae cut "Johnny Too Bad" and the rather maudlin pair of Traffic-style songs on side two, "Boy with a Problem" and "Seagull," do either the band or the singer seem less than fully controlled and confident.

As a writer, Capaldi's problem is lyrical. His melodies are attractive and never too slick, but the words are often simply absurd ("Living on a Marble") or rather embarrassingly sentimental (most of the rest of side two). Only on "It's All Up to You," a simple love song, and "Short Cut Draw Blood," which has some of the same sinister appeal as John Cale's recent songs, does Capaldi find something interesting to say. Thus, he's at his best when interpreting Boudleaux Bryant's classic "Love Hurts," to which he brings a sense of pain very different from Roy Orbison's original. His phrasing is more delicate and Harry Robinson's string arrangement is also less histrionic, but the song loses nothing in emotion.

Interestingly, Capaldi plays drums on only two tracks, though chances are his own drumming would have brought a little more life to the final pair of songs than Remi Kabaka has managed. But the arrangements here are generally fine, and since they are uncredited, one presumes they're his: Capaldi probably hasn't given up on musicianship completely.

Because it is unfocused, Short Cut Draw Blood probably won't have much commercial impact. Still, it stands out as a very pleasant surprise. If he chooses his idiom more carefully, Capaldi's next album could make him a major rock singer and writer. (RS 208)


(Posted: Mar 11, 1976)


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