MRS-5012 Stealin' Home
Produced by Sandy Robertson & Ian Matthews
Released on 1978
US CHART POSITION #80
Find it at GEMM
MRS-5012 cover
[high resolution scan]

W ith my jaded musical sensibilities, I have never esteemed “easy listening” as a quality of rock music. To the contrary, the more accessible a song, I reckoned, the more likely its appeal lay in the lowest common denominator of art: mass communication of the universal in the vernacular (e.g., love is good, hurt is bad). Thus we arrive at The Seventies Soft Rock Listenarium and Stealin’ Home, a soft-rock album of covers and originals rendered in said conventional idiom by the former Fairport singer Ian Matthews. Like Chris Hillman, Jay Ferguson and Jim Capaldi, Matthews had the misfortune of making his earliest mark in the progressive space, which meant that many of his firstborn fans would eventually react strongly and negatively to any exodus into the mainstream. It was a slower process for Matthews, who remained faithful to Fairportly folk with a string of solo albums and as the leader of Matthews Southern Comfort. However, as the 70s progressed, Matthews shifted his emphasis from folk singer/songwriter to pop vocalist, interpreting the work of other songwriters such as Jackson Browne, Van Morrison and Tom Waits. The beard was shaved, the hair began to appear blow dried. By 1978, Matthews, nearly ten years removed from his last hit (“Woodstock”), had moved to Seattle and signed with Sandy Robertson’s little-known Rockburgh Records (Robertson would produce his next four records). Normally, this would signal the end, but Stealin’ Home turned out to be one of the year’s sleepers, including a bonafide US hit with “Shake It.” Not everybody was thrilled with it, of course. Rolling Stone rolled themselves out of their own sleepy disdain for all things not replete with bottleneck guitar and blues harmonica to give the record three stars; All Music Guide gave it two and a half stars (half not, want not, I suppose). But I’m hard-pressed to think of a better album of soft rock than this. Matthews’ makes all the right moves: tunes from Robert Palmer (“Gimme An Inch”), John Martyn (“Man In The Station”), inspired classics like “Carefully Taught” and “Smile.” Stealin’ Home serves as an effective sampler of all that was right about Seventies soft-rock, from Alan Parsons Project to Eagles, James Taylor to 10cc. Maybe “easy listening” should have been a compliment all along.

TRACK LISTING

  1. GIMME AN INCH    (Robert Palmer)    4:19
  2. DON'T HANG UP YOUR DANCNG SHOES    (Terence Boylan)    2:58
  3. KING OF THE NIGHT    (Jeffrey Comanor)    3:52
  4. MAN IN THE STATION    (John Martyn)    3:58
  5. LET THERE BE BLUES    (Ian Matthews)    3:59
  6. CAREFULLY TAUGHT    (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II)    0:59
  7. STEALIN' HOME    (Ian Matthews)    3:21
  8. SHAKE IT    (Terence Boylan)    3:20
  9. YANK & MARY/SMILE    (Richard Stekol/Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons)    2:29
  10. SLIP AWAY    (Ian Matthews/Bill Lamb)    4:12
  11. SAIL MY SOUL    (Bill Lamb/Ian Matthews)    4:26

    Tracks arranged by Bryn Haworth and Ian Matthews

CREDITS

IAN MATTHEWS -- vocals, guitar
BRYN HAWORTH -- electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin
RICK KEMP -- bass
PHIL PALMER -- electric guitar
JIM RUSSEL -- drums
PETE WINGFIELD -- keyboards
Mel Collins -- sax (5,8)
Robert Kirby -- string arrangements
Simon Morton -- percussion
Duffy Power -- blues harp (4)
Barry Hammond -- engineer
Steve Hiett -- front cover photo
Sandy Robertson -- back cover Polaroid
Judith Caldwell -- back cover Polaroid
Chris Moore -- design
Michael Munday -- design
Don Zubalsky -- calligraphy
David Fleming/Gribbitt! -- graphic layout

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1978 Rockburgh LP ROC-106 avail. in red or green vinyl
US/CAN 1978 Mushroom LP/8T/CS MRS/MRS8/MRSC-5012 lyric sleeve
JPN 1979 Victor LP VIP-6627  
GER 1994 Line CD LICD-900074  
UK June 21, 2005 Beat Goes On CDZ BGOCD-680 digital remaster repackaged w. SIAMESE FRIENDS

 

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