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Blue Sky - Night Thunder
Michael Murphey

Epic KE 33290
Released: January 1975
Chart Peak: #18
Weeks Charted: 38
Certified Gold: 11/17/75

Michael MurpheyIt would be disingenuous of me to say, simply because I can't stand his records, that Michael Murphey is not worth your while. After all, I loved Michael Nesmith's recording of "Texas Morning" long before Murphey made his first album for A&M, and Gary Stewart does a bang up job of "Back Slider's Wine" on his recent debut album, Out of Hand. And Murphey not only worked as a grind-'em-out tunesmith for Screen-Gems Music, where he ground 'em out for the Monkees, among others, but escaped with both mind and talent intact, something which must be admired.

But as much as I admire his craftsmanship, I think his artistry leaves something to be desired. There's nothing wrong with that if you're just another rock band off the block, but when you aspire as overtly as Murphey does to making a statement, you force criticism on those grounds, too.

Michael Murphey - Blue Sky Night Thunder
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Give him this: He writes better platitudes than John Denver and certainly Bob Johnston's production is snazzier than Milt Okun's. But that doesn't change the fact that the vision Murphey expresses in these songs is as facile as Denver's in its own special way. I fail to see any qualitative difference between lines like:

Goodbye old desert rat
You half-crazy wildcat
You knew where it was at
What life's all about

and your choice of Denver's ickiest.

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I must admit that Murphey's melodies don't really do anything for me although they are pleasant. His lyrics are just over the line of pretension, except when he's being cosmic, when they are plain embarrassing. What makes Blue Sky - Night Thunder listenable at all is the picking and the production, both of which are excellent. All that's lacking is good, solid content.

- Ed Ward, Rolling Stone, 7/31/75.

Bonus Reviews!

Murphey has been lumped in a number of categories, including progressive country, Texas rock, country/rock and other areas. Basically, the man is simply a fine singer/songwriter with a soothing voice and a penchant for singing acoustic oriented tunes that deal with the people and things of the outdoors. Most of the songs do have an acoustic sound, and country stations should play certain cuts. Expect biggest action to come from FM, however. Highlight is "Goodbye Old Desert Rat," which characterizes perfectly the feeling of any younger person who has had the joy of knowing and talking to a wiser, older person. Like Dan Fogelberg, who is hitting big now, an easy to listen to artist who has a lot to say. Best cuts: "Carolina In The Pines," "Goodbye Old Desert Rat," "Blue Sky Riding Song," "Without My Lady There," "Rings Of Life."

- Billboard, 1975.

The change in musical direction hinted at on Michael Murphey has come to pass on this record. The Western feel of this record could qualify it as the follow-up to the Ballad of Calico songs he wrote for The First Edition. Also, with this album, the commercial success which had eluded him over the course of his previous albums was finally his.

- Jim Worbois, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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