Picks and Pans Review: So It Goes
06/13/1983 at 01:00 AM EDT
Another surge of releases by these guys and the Valium industry might be forced out of business. We are talking hard-core mellow here, which is by no means to be construed as a criticism since all four men have been consistently entertaining in their less-is-more ways. Bruce and Williams are both in the rugged-silent-deep-drawl bag. Their voices are marvels of the ever-vanishing pure country species. They also share the same chronic problem: too much Tennessee schmaltz. The electric pianos, sustained string arrangements and cutesy country-popification do neither of them justice on these albums. Williams' ballads are indeed tender, but from LP to LP they can seem on the repetitive side. (Here the entrants are the title track, Nobody But You and the slightly rocking If Love Gets There Before I Do.) Yellow Moon's best cuts are the exquisitely buoyant Stay Young, previously cut by its writers, Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle, and by Rick Nelson and his Stone Canyon Band, Pressure Makes Diamonds and Williams' commercial hit, Love Is on a Roll. These tunes, which are arranged with touches of mandolin, pedal steel and dobro and gorgeous harmonies, bring out the best in Williams. The same goes for Bruce on I'll Be There to Catch You and If It Was Easy. They recall most his work on Diane and Tom Rush's No Regrets. When he tries a little tenderness, it's never his voice that fails; it's the background—the electric piano/ string washout on such sappy material as You've Got Her Eyes, the title track and After All. Arnold, at 65, is as easygoing as ever and can still take such tunes as My Broken Heart Made Someone Happy and The Blues Don't Care Who's Got 'Em and make romantic unpleasantness a lot easier to handle. His voice is not the creamy instrument it once was, though, and occasional shakiness makes his singing seem at times like lumpy oatmeal—still comforting but a little disconcerting. Como, on the other hand, is in amazingly good voice at 70. This may be because he has always respected his limitations. He does a quietly thoughtful job on Stephen Sondheim's difficult theme from the film Reds, Goodbye...for Now, and similarly handles the odd rhythms of Fancy Dancer. He also revives Irving Berlin's If She Were the Only Girl in the World and is, all things considered, to be forgiven for recording the hyper-shlocky You Are So Beautiful. Como's old fans and maybe even a few younger listeners who dare listen to the old smoothies (camouflage the album by putting it in a Pink Floyd jacket, kids) will find some cozy, wonderfully relaxing music.