Nicolette Larson was one of the finest vocalists of her day. The three albums that make up this release come from 1978, 1979 and 1980, and with her perfect tones well suited for pop, soft rock radio Larson was a most popular lady. For not only did she make accomplished albums, but she was also a top-line backing vocalist. Used by everyone from Hot Axton to Neil Young (she sings on his Comes A Time album) by way of Marcia Ball, Guy Clark, Commander Cody, Doobie Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joe Shaver, Jesse Colin Young and Jesse Winchester to name but a few she was in big demand!
Soon after her Warner Brothers albums Larson turned her attention more towards country music. Already a fan as shown above she was used to singing it albeit mainly on other artists’ albums. Her love of the idiom is underlined on Nicolette through her excellent covers of “The Angels Rejoiced” (performed as have other versions from those that wrote it, Charlie & Ira Louvin and Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris draped in wondrous harmonies. Larson is joined by West Coast ace by Herb Pedersen) and Bob McDill’s “Come Early Morning” (covered by Don Williams), on which Ronstadt and Pedersen lend support on backing vocals. Plus you have James Burton on Dobro. As for the other tracks the music I feel is over produced, and not enough is made of her lead vocals. This was a time when way too many albums put out of her genre were over produced, with way too many players and layers used on records.
In The Nick Of Time has an accomplished set of musicians help guide the work of Larson. Among those most used on the record you have Paul Barrere and Billy Payne from Little Feat plus Bob Glaub (bass) and Ted Templeman (drums) who wrote, with Larson “Just In The Nick Of Time”. He is responsible for a good deal of the harmony vocals, along with Michael McDonald and you have Jim Horn on sax. It was a solid platform for her to work from, and on given the material as in the pulsating “Back In My Arms Again” (Holland, Holland, Dozier), “Rio De Janeiro Blue” (Torrance, Haeny) and with funky piano courtesy of Payne “Daddy” (Troup) and Karla Bonoff’s pretty “Isn’t Always Love” and better still is her stellar version of Lowell George’s “Trouble”. Buoyed by superb keyboards from session Van Dyke Parks it flicks the switch!
The third, and as it happens the least success chart wise album, Radioland (it only made the US top 75 opposed to the other two albums that made it into the top 50) it is again produced by Templeman. Radio friendly it offers a bunch of inviting tunes ranging from “Ooo-Eee” and title-track “Radioland” to funky, brass assisted “Tears, Tears And More Tears” and easy flowing “Been Gone Too Long”. It doesn’t stop there with the nine-track album also offering another cool sing-a-long in “Fool For Love”, and on slowing things down to where every note and nuance in her voice counts there's Lowell George’s “Long Distance Love”. Aided by fine organ, Fender Rhodes, electric, bass guitar and drums (Mark Jordan, Billy Payne, Fred Tackett, Klaus Voorman, Rick Shlosser) Larson’s captivating performing is such you don’t want to end (and just have to play it again). I could well imagine Bonnie Raitt covering it!
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