Her early career was guided by Atlanta music legend Sonny Limbo. He connected Sami Jo with Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals, AL, where she recorded two singles that failed to chart. Sonny then got her a deal with MGM South, which led to Sami Jo's first hit, "Tell Me A Lie". In addition to reaching #21 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, it also reached #14 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. Her follow-up single, "It Could Have Been Me", also did well, reaching #46 pop and #31 easy listening. Her first album, also entitled It Could Have Been Me, peaked at #33 on the U.S. Country Albums chart.
Kottke's sixth official album is a dazzling array of pieces, some wistfully romantic ("Mona Ray"), others savagely witty ("When Shrimps Learn to Whistle"), and still others downright folksy ("Bill Cheatham"), with accompaniments of varying shapes and types, from dobro to synthesizer and piano.
This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work – it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well.
As Dean Rudland points out in Ace's 2014 reissue of Lonnie Liston Smith's 1974 set Cosmic Funk, Smith himself views this LP as a transitional effort, capturing him between his pioneering work with Miles Davis' electric group and the exploratory Expansions. This suggests it perhaps isn't a cohesive album and, true enough, it's a record where the good ideas are sometimes suggested rather than developed. Much of the record showcases the smooth vocal stylings of Smith's brother Donald, who leads on a vocal version of John Coltrane's "Naima," lends a bit of a supper club vibe to "Beautiful Woman," croons through "Peaceful Ones," and dives into the thick, overlapping grooves of the title track. That opening song is one of the few tracks that emphasizes funk, otherwise the cosmic reigns, as the group usually getting spacy all the while never quite leaving the earth.
The first solo album by Juhani Aaltonen, a rarity since its original release in 1974 on Love Records. Saxophonist and flautist Juhani “Junnu” Aaltonen is a living legend among Finnish jazz musicians, having also performed stints with rock groups such as Tasavallan Presidentti. Encouraged by the ubiquitous Edward Vesala, with whom Aaltonen recorded several albums over the years, he ended up in the recording studio as a band leader. Vesala’s influence is evident on the resulting album Etiquette, which also features a host of other remarkable musicians as well, such as guitar hero Hasse Walli, bassist Pekka Sarmanto and saxophonist Sakari Kukko in his pre-Piirpauke days.