Friday, July 12, 2013
Kenny Loggins - Nightwatch
Joining Loggins on the album were Michael Hamilton (guitar), George Hawkins (bass and vocals), Brian Mann (keyboards), Tris Imboden (drums), Jon Clarke (woodwinds and saxophone), Vince Denham (woodwinds and saxophone) and the album’s producer Bob James (backing vocals).
Side one begins with the title track. “Nightwatch” has a cosmic, otherworldly vibe to it thanks to the opening keyboards. It also features a cool guitar solo from Loggins. The nearly eight-minute long song speaks of raw desires that can keep a person awake at night.
The second single, “Easy Driver”, charted at number 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 55 in Canada. This one has a bouncing, barreling-down-the-road groove that is ideal for cruising with the windows open all the way and the stereo cranked.
“Down ‘n’ Dirty” delivers exactly as its title suggests with an ode to a woman named Rosalee who is ready to get down to the business of good loving. The guitar work reminds me a bit of Joe Walsh of the Eagles, and Loggins easily flips from a high flying falsetto to a deep guttural growl.
“Down in the Boondocks” was written by Joe South and first recorded in 1965 by Billy Joe Royal. It is the tale of a poor boy from the wrong side of town that is in love with his upper-class boss’ daughter. Loggins gives this one a funky-fresh spin that I like quite a bit.
Side two opens with “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’”, a song written by Melissa Manchester and featuring Stevie Nicks in duet with Loggins. As the debut single, it went to number 40 in New Zealand, number 15 in the Netherlands, number 9 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 3 in Canada. This one is definitely a favorite from the 70’s for me; it is one that I heard quite a bit on the radio and often found myself singing along to. Manchester released her own version of the song in 1979 on her self-titled eighth album (click here for that review).
“Wait a Little While” blends well the jazz and soft-rock genres well, thanks to the light percussion and airy woodwinds. I like how it swings and sways on the rhythms and melodies.
“What a Fool Believes”, written by Loggins and Michael McDonald, was first recorded for this album. McDonald and the Doobie Brothers would then have a smash hit with it in 1979 when released on their Minute By Minute album (click here for that review). This is the first time I have heard Loggins versions, and it definitely is a unique spin to a classic many folks know quite well.
Kicking things back up to high gear is “Somebody Knows”. This rocker was chosen for the B-side to the second single.
The album closes with a track that was also the B-side to the first single. “Angelique” opens in a soft, mysterious way before growing bolder by the first chorus. The flourishing Spanish guitar adds a nice touch towards the end.
Nightwatch is definitely the kind of soft-rock/pop album I would have been into listening to back in 1978 when I was a young teenager. Kenny Loggins has an approachable, warm vocal style and the arrangements featured a nice variety. It was a no-brainer decision to add this one to my download-very-soon list.