Picks and Pans Review: It's About Time

updated 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

John Denver

Denver sings about war, hunger, children, brotherhood. On this album, he even devotes one song to his recently deceased father, Lt. Col. (Ret.) H.J. "Dutch" Deutschendorf, and a couple more seem clearly aimed at his estranged wife, Annie. For all that, most of the time his music seems heartless, indeed spiritless. On one track of this LP, World Game, he is backed by Bob Marley's old reggae group, the Wailers (can anyone doubt the Caribbean's influence on modern pop anymore?) and this is surely the most listless they have ever sounded. Denver's duet with Emmylou Harris on his Wild Montana Skies sounds positively buoyant by contrast with the rest of the album. Denver, as usual, is surrounded by splendid musicians—background singer Patti Austin, pianist Glen D. Hardin, guitarist James Burton and sax player Jim Horn among them. (The Wailers appear on only one tune.) But his stiffness seems to have infected the entire collection. The album is full of the not-quite-right feeling typified by these lines from Denver's song for his dad, On the Wings of a Dream: "And I lay in my bed and I wonder/ After all has been said and is done for/ Why is it thus we are here/ And so soon we are gone."

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