Today, Varese Vintage releases Lotta Love: The Very Best of Nicolette Larson, celebrating the life and career of the silken-voiced pop singer who died at the tragically young age of 45 in 1997. This 16-track anthology, culled from her years with Warner Bros. Records and featuring duets with Emmylou Harris, Steve Goodman and Michael McDonald, is a welcome reminder of Larson’s versatile gifts in the genres of pop, country and folk – and we would like to give you a chance to WIN ONE OF TEN COPIES of this new collection. Details to enter can be found at the end of this article!
The Montana-born vocalist rose to prominence as a background singer, performing with artists and bands including Hoyt Axton, Guy Clark, Commander Cody, Rodney Crowell, Billy Joe Shaver and Jesse Winchester. But when Larson melded her voice in harmony with Emmylou Harris’ on the Carter Family’s “Hello, Stranger,” it was clear that she belonged in the spotlight. The cut was included on Harris’ country chart-topping album Luxury Liner in 1977, setting the stage for Larson’s solo ascent. The young singer was featured along with her friend Harris and housemate Linda Ronstadt on Neil Young’s 1977 American Stars and Bars, and then Larson took an even more prominent vocal role on Young’s Comes a Time the next year. One of the Comes a Time tracks on which Larson did not sing was “Lotta Love.”
Soon, the track was opening Larson’s solo debut on the Warner Bros. label, Nicolette. The sparkling, effervescent “Lotta Love” not only affirmed Neil Young’s ability to write an honest-to-goodness pop song when the spirit moved him, but introduced radio to Larson’s expressive, inviting vocals. It was released as a single when it was clear that Young’s original would not be, and made the Billboard Top 10 Pop chart as well as topping the Adult Contemporary survey. With its bright, radio-friendly production by Ted Templeman – who produced Van Halen’s debut and The Doobie Brothers’ smash Minute by Minute in the same year of 1978 – “Lotta Love” became Larson’s signature song.
The one-two punch of “Hello, Stranger” and “Lotta Love” open The Very Best of Nicolette Larson. Four more tracks from Nicolette are also included: a lovely revival of Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” Jesse Winchester’s funky “Rhumba Girl,” Bill and Fran Payne’s smooth “Give a Little” and a tender reading of the Louvin Brothers’ purely country “Angels Rejoiced.” (Underlining Larson’s great versatility, the original album also included songs by the Eagles, Burt Bacharach, and Holland/Dozier/Holland!)
Larson followed up Nicolette with 1979’s In the Nick of Time, but The Very Best also includes her duet with Steve Goodman on “The One That Got Away” from Goodman’s 1979 Asylum album High and Outside. From In the Nick of Time, the collection includes the Top 40 duet with Michael McDonald on his “Let Me Go Love” as well as the disco-flavored “Dancin’ Jones” from Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and Karla Bonoff’s “Isn’t It Always Love.” 1980’s Radioland was Larson’s final album collaboration with Ted Templeman; three tracks have been taken from the album including a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Tears, Tears and More Tears.”
In 1981, Larson appeared on the soundtrack album to the Academy Award-winning comedy Arthur, from which Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager’s aching “Fool Me Again” has been derived. The Very Best concludes with two songs from Larson’s final Warner Bros. album, 1982’s All Dressed Up and No Place to Go. Nicolette’s then-fiancé, producer Andrew Gold, updated Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be with You” for the 1980s. “Two Trains” came from the pen of Little Feat’s late leader, Lowell George. (It first appeared on that band’s Dixie Chicken album.)
Nicolette Larson went on to concentrate on her country leanings, signing with MCA Nashville for a couple of well-received albums. Her studio output slowed down considerably, and she only released two more studio LPs in her lifetime – the 1998 Italian release Shadows of the Love, and the 1992 lullaby collection Sleep, Baby, Sleep on Sony Wonder. The latter reunited her with Gold, and featured guest appearances from Ronstadt, David Crosby and Graham Nash. In her later years, Larson would also appear on albums from Dolly Parton, Weird Al Yankovic, Jimmy Buffett and once again, Neil Young. She died in 1997 of complications from cerebral edema.
This splendid collection produced by Cary Mansfield, Bill Pitzonka and Jerry McCulley has been designed by Steve Stanley of Now Sounds, and features McCulley’s new liner notes. Steve Massie has remastered. With Rhino’s 1999 compilation (also featuring sixteen tracks, ten of which also appear here) out of print and fetching high sums, the time has never been better to rediscover the music of Nicolette Larson.
We would like Lotta Love: The Very Best of Nicolette Larson to be YOURS. To enter to win ONE OF TEN COPIES, simply LIKE our Facebook page, and head over to Varese Sarabande’s FB page and do the same! Just leave us a comment on the NICOLETTE LARSON post on our FB page. Let us know: What’s your favorite Nicolette song or memory? Once you like both pages and comment anything you’d like to share about Nicolette, you’ll automatically be entered to win!
If you’ve entered our previous giveaways and have already liked BOTH The Second Disc and Varese’s Facebook page, you can still win: simply enter a comment on our thread to be entered! Only one entry per person. Remember, BOTH FB pages must be “LIKED” and a comment left on our page in order to win!
Don’t have Facebook? We’re not leaving you out in the cold! Just send an e-mail to theseconddisc AT gmail DOT com with the subject line “NICOLETTE LARSON” plus your name and mailing address, and you’ll also be entered to win!
The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on the evening of Thursday, August 27, at which time 10 random winners will be selected. Contest open to all. Only one entry per person either via Facebook or email. All winners at sole discretion of The Second Disc. U.S. residents only, please. This contest is NOT affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook. Winner will be notified on Friday, August 28 via Facebook and The Second Disc, so remember to check back! Good luck!
Lotta Love: The Very Best of Nicolette Larson is available now from Varese Vintage at the links below!
- Hello Stranger – Emmylou Harris with Nicolette Larson
- Lotta Love
- You Send Me
- Rhumba Girl
- Angels Rejoiced
- Give a Little
- The One That Got Away – Steve Goodman featuring Nicolette Larson
- Let Me Go, Love – Nicolette Larson with Michael McDonald
- Dancin’ Jones
- Isn’t It Always Love
- Tears, Tears and More Tears
- Fool Me Again
- I Only Want to Be with You
- Two Trains
Track 1 from Emmylou Harris, Luxury Liner, Warner Bros., 1977
Tracks 2-6 from Nicolette, Warner Bros., 1978
Track 7 from Steve Goodman, High and Outside, Asylum, 1979
Tracks 8-10 from In the Nick of Time, Warner Bros., 1979
Tracks 11-13 from Radioland, Warner Bros., 1981
Track 14 from Arthur: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Warner Bros., 1981
Tracks 15-16 from All Dressed Up with No Place to Go, Warner Bros., 1982