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Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band

MCA 383
Released: February 1974
Chart Peak: #190
Weeks Charted: 4

Rick NelsonOver his last three albums, Rick Nelson has attained the heights of creativity which even the excellence of his early work never prepared us for. In the year or so since Garden Party, anticipation among his audience has run high. And now, Windfall fulfills most expectations, but with a few surprises.

Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band - Windfall
Original album advertising art.
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Nelson seems to be fronting an all-new Stone Canyon Band; the sound, though, is none the worse for the changes. The big shocker is in the songs themselves. After building his stature as a songwriter throughout Rick Sings Nelson, Rudy The Fifth and Garden Party, he has stepped back and allowed Dennis Larden, a former member of Every Mother's Son, to write or co-write most of the new material.

Rick Nelson has relied on favored songwriters in the past, most successfully Johnny Burnette and Baker Knight, who even make an appearance here with "I Don't Want to Be Lonely Tonight," an album highlight. But that was before Rick himself could write as well as he sings. Ironically, Larden writes as though he's imitating Nelson's style, so the songs come off as good but second-rate Nelson. Two exceptions are "Legacy" and "Don't Leave Me Here," which are superb.

Nelson's own material is the best, especially "Someone To Love" and the single, "Lifestream," which, to me, is the album's highlight. Despite Larden's real contribution, I hope for the pleasure of more Nelson tunes on the next album. Which is not to say that Windfall isn't a thoroughly enjoyable record. It is, and more. With Rick Nelson, that much can always be taken for granted.

- Greg Shaw, Rolling Stone, 3/14/74.

Bonus Review

Now here is a remarkable thing. If before hearing Windfall you read the lyrics that are printed on the cover you would probably let out a resigned sigh over the banality of it all and contemplate ways of recycling the vinyl. Add to the banal lyrics the most pedestrian of tunes (except for "Don't Leave Me Here," which has some nice changes), and what are we left with? The performances! How Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band work this miraculous transformation is beyond me, but the arrangements, musicianship, and vocal delivery are entirely charming, graceful and subtle.

I have never heard an album where a band, by its own decision (Stone Canyon and Nelson wrote the material), had so little to work with and yet made it come off so well. Nelson has never sounded better. Since he formed the Stone Canyon Band he has been quietly earnest in his music, always reaching for something he either could not quite get or secretly never thought he would. But with this album he and his band have got it knocked. I never though I'd be saying this when I started, but I really like it.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 7/74.

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