ROGER McGUINN Cardiff Rose (1976)

Cardiff Rose (1976)
Maybe His Best Post-Byrds Work… And One Amazing Surprise.

Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review was an eclectic, mid-70s carnival of souls that not only artistically invigorated ol’ Bob, but also planted many ideas in many minds throughout the tour’s run. Dylan would be inspired by Christian co-Roller T-Bone Burnett to find Jesus. While Roger McGuinn walked away from the tour with Mick Ronson in tow (yeah, the guy from Bowie’s Spiders From Mars), as well as Rob Stoner, David Mansfield & Howie Wyeth, who all aided and abetted some of McGuinn’s finest solo work, Cardiff Rose. What’s unique about Roger’s performances on this album is his new-found vocal energy. Listen for his riveting vocal inflections on “Pretty Polly” and the outstanding cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Dreamland.” Obviously inspired by Dylan’s hyper-delivery during Rolling Thunder, McGuinn, for the first time in years, found a new source of energy within himself on Cardiff Rose. Sure… it’s still McGuinn (the obligatory Dylan cover is the then-unreleased, “Up To Me”), but you’ll hear an artist who just got side-swiped by his long-standing mentor, and was suddenly intent on expressing himself without the safety net of his past success. Musically, there’s a contrasting energy weaving throughout – from drunken pirate songs (“Jolly Roger”) to elaborate 50s sock-hop (“Partners In Crime”) to Jersey shore balladeering (“Friend”). But, it’s all held together by an elastic band of vets playing with a genuine intensity and road-forged alchemy. Lyricist Jacques Levy, a co-writer on The Byrds’ (Untitled) is aboard, too. Dylan was so knocked out by that LP’s “Chestnut Mare,” he’d later enlist Levy to co-write one of his best albums, Desire.

There’s also one truly bizarre oddity on Cardiff Rose. A sore thumb track that didn’t make any sense back in the mid-70s, since it clearly didn’t belong with the rest of this album. McGuinn was apparently unconcerned, because there it is, three tracks high in the running order. “Rock And Roll Time,” written by McGuinn, Kris Kristofferson and Bobby Neuwirth (another Roller), sounds almost exactly like… The Clash!. Before The Clash ever made an album. Listen for yourself. How funny would it have been as a UK single at the dawn of the punk movement? It’s included on the player below just to amaze you (and mess with your fragile musical bearings). Apparently out of print, there are numerous CD versions of Cardiff Rose floating around at Amazon.

Take Me Away (3:02)
Jolly Roger (4:58)
Rock And Roll Time (2:47)
Friend (2:08)
Partners In Crime (4:52)
Up To Me (5:38)
Round Table (4:07)
Pretty Polly (3:17)
Dreamland (5:20)
Soul Love (Demo Recording) (3:07) - Bonus Track
Dreamland (Live) (5:30) - Bonus Track

 

36 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    August 17, 2011 - 22:09 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    August 17, 2011 - 22:39 | Permalink

    I think Ronson deserves a lot of the credit for this excellent album; his production, playing and arrangements elevated McGuinn’s game a lot. I’ve loved this album ever since I got it back in ’76. Naturally, Ronson and McGuinn didn’t work together again; McGuinn went on to do the bland Thunderbyrd without him. Too bad he didn’t heed Billy Altman’s advice in his Creem review: “Don’t touch that tent, McGuinn, you’re getting somewhere.”

    • 3
      Willard
      August 17, 2011 - 22:44 | Permalink

      Roger that.

      By the way, the first bonus track demo, “Soul Love” – sounding almost like a Roy Orbison composition – was actually written by Bowie. You gotta figure Ronson suggested that, too.

  • 4
    courtney
    August 18, 2011 - 00:07 | Permalink

    See. this is what I thought McGuinn was trying for in the first place – -not folk-rock, but folk-ROCK…thanks for a great dl…

  • 5
    August 18, 2011 - 09:58 | Permalink

    Dude — You’re psychic. I was just looking for a download of this one yesterday, with no success.

    Thanks!

    • 6
      Willard
      August 18, 2011 - 10:12 | Permalink

      I knew you were gonna say that.

  • 7
    pete
    August 18, 2011 - 12:23 | Permalink

    Thanks! I used to like this but I haven’t heard it since I lost my last functioning turntable … and I can’t remember when that was

  • 10
    August 18, 2011 - 14:45 | Permalink

    oooh that rock n roll time tune is suh-mokin!

    thanks for the education

    • 11
      Willard
      August 18, 2011 - 15:11 | Permalink

      Man, did I hate it back in the day. It seemed so dumb and pointless compared to everything else on the album. NOW… it sounds downright prescient?

  • 12
    August 18, 2011 - 15:36 | Permalink

    my entire musical taste is based on dumb and pointless- for further proof- i humbly submit my band’s album (released april 2011) – Caterwaul Of Sound: “Stabby Road”
    http://www.caterwaulofsound.com/

    • 13
      Willard
      August 18, 2011 - 16:22 | Permalink

      Is it prescient, too?

    • 14
      Jerry Lee
      August 26, 2011 - 21:39 | Permalink

      Yo nazz-

      Is that Rochdale Village on the cover of Stabby Road?

  • 15
    bsk
    August 18, 2011 - 15:42 | Permalink

    Thanks. If I hadn’t been told so, I would have thought RnR WAS the Clash. Is there a word for imitating something before it exists?

  • 16
    shadoobie
    August 18, 2011 - 18:17 | Permalink

    Very nice. Creem reference seals the deal for me. I was searching for a National Lampoon quote with no luck. How about….

    “Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.”

  • 17
    Jeremiah
    August 19, 2011 - 01:36 | Permalink

    Thanks…i had this on vinyl years ago. great LP.

  • 18
    John
    August 19, 2011 - 13:32 | Permalink

    Thanks for the great McGuinn. I had this on vinyl as well. A great set of songs that I’m very happy to listen to again thanks to you!

  • 19
    Art Ducko
    August 20, 2011 - 01:20 | Permalink

    You’ll be glad to know that Tom Petty just recently played “Rock And Roll Time” on his Buried Treasure show on Sirius/XM. Did it rock? Fuck,yeah.

  • 21
    August 21, 2011 - 22:18 | Permalink

    I just got back from camping where I had no phone or internet, otherwise I would have responded immediately that “Up To Me” is simply the best Dylan cover of his career.
    I bought the Lp when it came out, and have missed it sorely for decades. I bought the MOJO “Dylan Covered” and was soooooo disappointed that was solo acoustic.
    Thanks again for existing.

    • 22
      Willard
      August 21, 2011 - 23:31 | Permalink

      Actually, it was your comment about “Up To Me” on a previous post that got me to digging this album out. Thanks.

  • 23
    August 21, 2011 - 22:21 | Permalink

    And Holy shit you’re right about “Rock And Roll Time”!

  • 24
    August 21, 2011 - 22:24 | Permalink

    And not to mention that “Dreamland” sounds like we wish Joni’s version did.

  • 25
    August 22, 2011 - 08:45 | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding me. I spent a couple decades hoping to run across it and finally got my college roomate to rip me my original record which he’d snagged in a punk rock purge in ’79.
    I got it here anyway as it’s a higher bit rate.

  • 26
    Anonymous
    August 22, 2011 - 09:50 | Permalink

    So glad to see “Up To Me” getting some much deserved love. Bought this album when it first came out and thought it was generally good but I was absolutely blown away by that song. Thirty years later I still believe it to be one of the finest Dylan covers ever. Wasn’t sure if there was anyone else that felt as I did about that song but it’s very refreshing to find out that maybe you’re not alone in the wilderness.

    Great site, BTW

  • 27
    August 22, 2011 - 13:52 | Permalink

    As I understand it, Dylan recorded “Blood On The Tracks”, and then rerecorded all the songs as we know them. “Up To Me” is apparently the song that didn’t make it to version 2.0, and about Richard Farina.

    • 28
      Willard
      August 22, 2011 - 14:13 | Permalink

      Yeah, that sounds right. The outtakes are called Blood On The Tracks The New York Sessions, but the song “Up To Me” was eventually released on Biograph in ’85. I can’t remember if that version is the exact same NY Session outtake or not, though, but you can GRAB IT HERE

  • 29
    August 22, 2011 - 18:07 | Permalink

    wikipedia says Richard Farina is known for his 1966 novel “Been down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me”.

    “On April 30, 1966, two days after the publication of his book, Fariña attended a book-signing ceremony at a Carmel Valley Village bookstore, the Thunderbird. Later that day, while at a party to celebrate his wife Mimi’s 21st birthday, Fariña saw a guest with a motorcycle, who later gave Fariña a ride up Carmel Valley Road east toward Cachagua. At an S-turn the driver lost control. The motorcycle tipped over on the right side of the road, came back to the other side, and tore through a barbed wire fence into a field where there is now a small vineyard. The driver survived, but Fariña was killed instantly.”

    • 30
      Willard
      August 22, 2011 - 19:48 | Permalink

      Didn’t know that.

  • 31
    August 22, 2011 - 18:10 | Permalink

    “I guess it must be up to me”.

  • 32
    henry
    August 22, 2011 - 21:54 | Permalink

    thank you for the music.
    cheers from argentina,
    Henry

  • 33
    Ian of Cornwall
    September 23, 2011 - 07:20 | Permalink

    Post Holiday Thanks: Cheers for this, W. Love the Byrds, never really dug the solo stuff but yeah Dreamland n Up To Me are pretty good. Clash track? Never really got them either.

  • 34
    September 27, 2011 - 19:10 | Permalink

    Wow, i confess that i was really skeptical of your assertion that “Rock and Roll Time” would sound Clash-like….but you’re totally right! Very interesting. Wonderful blog, you have, btw.

    • 35
      Willard
      September 27, 2011 - 20:18 | Permalink

      McGuinn, Kristofferson & Neuwirth… the foundation of Punk. Who’da thunk?

  • 36
    KDNYfm
    August 10, 2012 - 10:51 | Permalink

    Funny, I found a copy of Roger’s first solo yesterday and today here is my favorite McGuinn album, and my favorite song: of course the cover of Up to Me. Will have to pay cloer attention to R&R Time!
    Thanx as usual for sharing and all the fabuloso historic trivia!
    Al

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