Linda Ronstadt may have gotten down and dirty in the pigpen for the cover of her sophomore solo album, but the alluring music within the record's grooves was indeed far closer to the Silk Purse of its title than to a sow's ear. The 1970 Nashville-recorded LP, recently reissued on CD by Varese Vintage on the heels of its 2015 Black Friday Record Store Day vinyl release, fused Ronstadt's West Coast sensibilities with an authentic country-and-western vibe. It's as potent a blend now as it was upon its original release.
Silk Purse brought together classic and contemporary country along with R&B and modern rock selections under the aegis of producer Elliot Mazer (recommended to Linda by Janis Joplin). Mazer had recently produced the debut record from Area Code 615, a band consisting of Music City's session elite. Those same vets populated the Silk Purse sessions at Nashville's Woodland Studios (though additional recording took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco). The singer's solid country credentials were established by her rip-roaring and appropriately twangy renditions of the Hank Williams and Mel Tillis chestnuts "Lovesick Blues" and "Mental Revenge," respectively.
She championed the more recent sounds coming out of the genre by including "Are My Thoughts with You" from Mickey Newbury, one of the vanguard of contemporary country songwriters. Gary White, another young writer, lent his presence mightily to Silk Purse, as well. White sang the tight harmony on Paul Siebel's "Louise," and contributed two of his own songs: "Nobody's," and the song which would earn Ronstadt her first Grammy nomination and first major solo hit, the beautifully plaintive "Long Long Time." The record's dark, striking string sound was courtesy of pedal steel player Weldon Myrick and violinist Buddy Spicher coming together, while Ronstadt delivered an indelible and emotional, honest vocal.
Ronstadt's affinity for R&B came through in the selection of the first single, a tender cover of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," while rock and roll duo Dale and Grace's "I'm Leaving It All Up to You" provided another worthy makeover. The California folk-rock of future Eagle Bernie Leadon and former Byrd Gene Clark's "He Darked the Sun" and a downhome version of the traditional "Life is Like a Mountain Railway" featuring The Beechwood Rangers rounded out an eclectic yet unified album from a fresh, original interpretive voice. Though the album proved to be a commercial disappointment, it set the stage for the artist's subsequent triumphs, and remains a beloved and vital country-rock classic.
Varese's new edition of Silk Purse has been remastered for CD by Steve Massie. It features a booklet with new liner notes by Jerry McCulley (illustrated with images including Capitol's amusing ad referring to the album by its jokey working title of Music from Big Pork) and a replica period label on the CD itself. We want you to take this new reissue of Linda Ronstadt's classic album home - 30 of you, in fact! Yes, we have 30 copies of Silk Purse to give away, and here's all you have to do:
To enter to win ONE OF 30 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 LINDA RONSTADT post on our FB page. Let us know: What's your favorite Linda song or memory? Once you like both pages and comment anything you'd like to share about the timeless music of Ms. Ronstadt, 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. If you've won a Second Disc giveaway in the last 60 days, you are ineligible for this contest. 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 "LINDA RONSTADT" 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 Monday, June 6, at which time 30 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 later in the week of June 6 via Facebook and The Second Disc, so remember to check back! Good luck!
Silk Purse is available now at the links below!
- Lovesick Blues
- Are My Thoughts with You?
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
- Long Long Time
- Mental Revenge
- I'm Leavin' It All Up to You
- He Darked the Sun
- Life is Like a Mountain Railway