Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Earl Klugh - Finger Paintings (1977)/Heart String (1979)/Wishful Thinking (1984)



UK Import

Three albums on 2 CDs from the master of nylon string guitar smooth jazz. Thanks, BGO. Over 30 years ago, I discovered Klugh while in college with the help of the latter two of these albums. I find it impossible to stay in a bad mood while listening to Klugh play guitar.

Excellent remastering job on these plus a fantastic liner note booklet that includes full credits as well as a nice essay by Charles Waring, jazz columnist for Record Collector and contributor to MOJO and Wax Poetics. Well done.


FINGER PAINTINGS (1977)
9 tracks, 37 minutes


Produced by Dave Grusin and his fingerprints are all over this one. The album features plenty of studio heavies: Steve Gadd, Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Ralph McDonald, and Tom Scott.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #84
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #6
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #31
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #129

Tracks: It's hard to pick favorites on a Klugh album, but this morning I'll go with Long Ago And Far Away, Jolanta, and This Time (later covered by Al Jarreau).  Not my favorite track but worthy of note is the cover of Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow (written by Grusin) because you wouldn't think that TV theme song would work in a smooth jazz setting and you'd be right. Ill-advised but I'll allow one misstep per album because I'm a giving kind of guy. The cover that does work is track 6, Klugh's take on Orleans' Dance with Me.


HEART STRING (1979)
8 tracks, 41 minutes


Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by this CD set.

Love this one. Produced by Klugh himself, so it sounds more like his usual stuff than the previous Grusin joint. I guess most critics would use the cliché "he had found his voice" but I avoid clichés like the plague.

This was probably the first Earl Klugh album I ever bought/heard. It brings back many memories of my freshman year in college, picking up cassettes from the clearance bin from the record store in the Greenville Mall. I don't remember the name of the record store, but I'm guessing it was a Hastings.


On a slightly related note, our local Hastings closed on October 30 of this year, leaving this college town without a record store. I never woulda thought that was possible. I'd be sad about it, but Klugh is currently playing on the stereo.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #49
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #32
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #46

Tracks: So many good tracks here. 7 of the 8 tracks written by Klugh himself. I wouldn't skip any but will single out the title track for a tasty electric piano solo from Greg Phillinganes, as well as Spanish Night which is about as characteristic Klugh tune as you'll find. There's also a nice cover of Sergio Mendes' Pretty World and a solo track, Waiting For Cathy.


WISHFUL THINKING (1984)
8 tracks, 36 minutes


Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by this CD set. The cover art above doesn't match the CD cover but matches the cover of the vinyl version I once owned.

Purchased at the same record store as the above tape, only I paid full retail for this beauty. I can still sing along with all the melodies on this one (I'll spare you from having to hear me sing guitar lines). All songs written and produced by Klugh himself, this one might rival Late Night Guitar as my all-time favorite Klugh album. Like that album, this one has more than its fair share of beautiful orchestral arrangements. supporting Klugh's work.

Here's something I wouldn't have guessed but am pleasantly surprised:


According Whitburn's Top Pop Albums book (7th ed.), Klugh was #39 on the list of top artists of the 1980s.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #69
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #18
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #66

Tracks: Again, don't skip any. Favorites include the title track, Tropical Legs, and The Only One For Me (featuring David Sanborn), but the best tune is the swinging big band of Take It From The Top which was used for many years as the theme to PGA Tour coverage on CBS.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Midnight in San Juan (1991)
The Best of Earl Klugh (1991)
Volume One (1991)
Collaboration (1987)
Soda Fountain Shuffle (1985)
Two of a Kind (1982)
Late Night Guitar (1980)

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