“Album II” by Loudon Wainwright III - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1971Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The second LP from the 24 year-old purveyor of humour-laden singer-songwriter gloom, sometimes devoid of humour, was released in June 1971. He had just got married to fellow singer-songwriter Katie McGarrigle, the two having discovered they were to become parents. You’d think he’d be the full of the joys, but it doesn’t really come across that way. The album starts off wonderfully with “Me and My Friend the Cat” – “sitting at speeds known only to few, incredible distance we travelled us two, if only you’d been there, if only you’d seen.” You kind of get the feeling he’d make a great Dad. This is Loudon the loveable goof-ball, with a whole lot of crazy imagery to share. His bachelor day songs are still lurking, evidenced on “Motel Blues”, as the lonely life of a travelling musician is tragicized with the desperate plea for sexual favour: “I'll write a song for you, I'll put it on my next LP, come up to my motel room, sleep with me!… There's a Bible in the drawer don't be afraid, I'll put up the sign to warn the clean-up maid… I'll buy you breakfast, they'll think you're my wife, Oh come up to my motel room, save my life.”

Be Careful, There’s A Baby In The House” signals the beginning of the Wainwright family story being told publically in song: “Be careful there's a baby in the house, and a baby can spot your schtick, all the coochy coochy coo is a lot of poo poo when you spread it on that thick.” Imagine being scared of a lil’ ol’ baby! At least he’s honest – it’s a part of the charm and he gets away with it. There would be no happy ending here though; there was a real-life tragedy when Kate had a miscarriage some months later. The strange angsty tone is continued on the wildly confrontational “I Know I’m Unhappy / Suicide Song / Glenville Reel” which is so brutally stark that it makes you wonder if it’s to be interpreted as some sort of sick black humour: “I rarely make love, I mostly get laid… when you get the blues and you want to shoot yourself in the head, it’s alright… go ahead… cut your throat, cut your wrist… turn your body back to soil.”

Loudon’s first song about Kate, “Saw Your Name In The Paper” is another strange one – not for him a sappy song declaring undying love – where’s the entertainment in that? Kate and her musical partner Roma Baran, who would go on to be Laurie Anderson's producer, had gotten a rave review for their performance at the 1970 Philadelphia Folk Festival. Loudon used the song to warn her against the perils of fame; perils to which he himself was not immune. See: Motel Blues. In summary, the minutiae of personal politics and his awkward ways make for another compelling listen on “Album II”, but it’s the sole cover version which steals the glory. Loudon, together with Saul Broudy on harmonica and wife Kate on harmony vocals, play a blinder on “Old Paint” – he allows the plaintive side of his character to roam pure and true, and his co-performers contribute exquisitely. Although well received by a few critics, the album failed to make any commercial impact and proved to be his last for Atlantic Records. Bah, humbug.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:23] 7.9.png Loudon Wainwright III - Me And My Friend The Cat (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
A2 [02:50] 7.4.png Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
A3 [02:09] 6.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - Nice Jewish Girls (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
A4 [03:18] 8.0.png Loudon Wainwright III - Be Careful, There’s A Baby In The House (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
A5 [03:10] 8.7.png Loudon Wainwright III - I Know I’m Unhappy / Suicide Song / Glenville Reel (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk
A6 [02:14] 7.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - Saw Your Name In The Paper (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B1 [03:09] 6.9.png Loudon Wainwright III - Samson And The Warden (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B2 [03:10] 5.8.png Loudon Wainwright III - Plane; Too (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B3 [02:06] 6.4.png Loudon Wainwright III - Cook That Dinner, Dora (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B4 [02:57] 6.4.png Loudon Wainwright III - Old Friend (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B5 [03:50] 9.2.png Loudon Wainwright III - Old Paint (Traditional) Folk
B6 [03:30] 7.2.png Loudon Wainwright III - Winter Song (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk

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