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Cannons In the Rain

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Album Review

After recording a pair of records each for Capitol and Warner Bros., John Stewart moved over to RCA, where he remained a bit longer. Issued in 1973, Cannons was released just about the time the outlaw movement was cracking it in Austin with Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, and the rest. Stewart's music could not have sounded more out of place with the Texans. This was California country music that had been drenched in Stewart's folk influences and his love of West Coast production. To that end, Nick Venet, who had produced his records at Capitol, returned to Stewart's side. He enlisted some of old friends such as banjo boss Bobby Thompson, drummer Russ Kunkel, harmonicat Charlie McCoy, pianist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and backing vocalist Buffy Ford. Some of the newer faces are what make the difference, however, and these include Pete Drake on pedal steel and dobro, the Nashville Edition on backing vocals, and guitarists Waddy Wachtel and Kelso Herston. The laid-back feel of the disc is a Venet trademark, but Stewart's in fine voice and lyrical form. The loopy melody of "Easy Money" that straddles the line between soft rock and honky tonk is an example as is the forlorn folky country of "Chilly Winds." "Road Away" is Southern California country at its finest. The title cut with its tender chorus and gentle melody line is gorgeous here but would have been better served if cut by Marty Robbins or even Conway Twitty. This is like Jimmy Webb without the acid. "Lady and the Outlaw" is a nod to what was happening in Austin despite its high-on-weed spoken word intro. But here it is, Stewart rolling out a tune that could have been written by Jerry Jeff and sung by either Steve Young or Waylon. It's a hell of a way to close an album and makes the listener long for an entire record of tunes like this — which came with Wingless Angels the very next year.


Born: 05 September 1939 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Stewart first gained recognition as a songwriter when his songs were recorded by the Kingston Trio. In 1960, he formed the Cumberland Three, which recorded three albums for Roulette. The following year, he joined the Kingston Trio, replacing Dave Guard, and stayed with them until 1967. His song "Daydream Believer" was a number one hit for the Monkees at the end of that year. Stewart traveled with Senator Robert Kennedy on his 1968 presidential campaign, an experience that affected him deeply....
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Cannons In the Rain, John Stewart
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