In an earlier post I talked about how my son introduced me to the music of John Stewart. He was quite excited when I came home a couple weeks ago with a few more Stewart albums. It was clear he was very proud of himself, especially knowing how much music means to his father.
Most of the other records I bought by Stewart are in a similar vein to Willard--the kind of slightly folky, slightly countrified rock that would later come to be known as Americana--and all of them are quite good. But Bombs Away Dream Babies was a totally different story. This sounded like Fleetwood Mac circa Rumours with John Stewart as lead singer. There was a very good reason for this, Lindsey Buckingham--a huge Stewart fan--had produced the album, and he and Stevie Nicks make numerous guest appearances.
The first notes of the lead-off track "Gold" brought back a flood of memories. This is very much the sound of late 70s California rock (I suspect if you listen closely you might be able to hear the engineers doing lines in the control room). An angry rant against the music industry by someone who had already been dropped by three labels, "Gold" ironically became a top 5 hit in 1979.
There is an inherent tension throughout the album between Buckingham's slick pop instincts and the rough-hewn honesty of Stewart's voice (at times he sounds a little like Johnny Cash in his later years). It's a productive tension that results in not only the most popular, but also some of the best music of Stewart's long career.
As popular as this album was, it has somehow fallen out of print. If prices on Amazon's Marketplace are any indication, copies of the long out of print CD reissue on Razor & Tie are going for around $100. This album badly needs to be reissued.
And is it just me, or does Stewart look a lot like Gary Shandling on this album cover?