“Unrequited” by Loudon Wainwright III - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1975Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Speaking of that memorable cover shot, Loudon says: “The big picture of me on the front cover of the album with the tear rolling down my cheek (a glycerine drop I can now confess) seems to say 'look at the sad clown.' Yes, I was sad, but I was one pissed off clown, too. In 1974 my marriages to my wife Kate McGarrible, my personal manager Milton Kramer, and Columbia Records were all on the rocks. Kate and I were separated. Milt and I battled constantly about the direction of my career, and Columbia was poised to drop me from their roster. My last effort for the label, Attempted Moustache, had bombed badly in comparison with my first record for them, Album III, which had contained the hit 'Dead Skunk.' In 1974 things were't going great.

Side 1, recorded in the studio with a full-band backing, has very little to offer, excepting “Crime of Passion” which sees Loudon getting all sophisticated with it… it very much puts me in mind of the Fab 4’s “Come Together”. Speaking of which, there are signs of trouble ‘t mill on “Whatever Happened To Us” as Loudon delivers the horrific line: “You told me that I came too soon, but it was you who came too late.” Ouch. Notoriously auto-biographical, we can only assume that dirty linen is being washed in public – and that’s not attractive. Suddenly, the front cover revelation of domestic turmoil comes alive. Aside from this dodginess, at this stage, I’m thinking musically “jeez, his 3 record stint at Columbia has been less than inspiring; a grade below Paul Simon really. I’m missing the Loudon bite of the Atlantic days.” The studio side retires on a low rating of 5.07, which stands in stark contrast to side 2 (6.77) which was recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York City over the course of 3 nights in August and September ‘74. As if by some sort of magic, my plea has been heard. Here, it’s solo-acoustic action all the way, and with all of the focus back on Loudon’s characterful delivery, he’s playing to his strengths.

On “Guru” Loudon is right-on when he calls out the holy cults of the day. They have: “some literature to show you the way, Yeah they’re proselytizing and it's mesmerizing, and they're making moulah everyday”. The self-deprecating “Mr. Guilty” gets the audience onside even though he admits he’s a cad and she’s been had. You can only hope it’s not a real-life tale but you fear the worst. “The Untitled” (aurally introduced as “The Hardy Boys At The Y”) reinvents an old folk traditional (the origin of which escapes me at the time of writing) as a homosexual romp between two bodybuilders at the YMCA. Re-employing an old trick first engaged with “Black Uncle Remus” back on his debut, Loudon goes so far as to name them Frank and Joe after the fictional mystery-solving Hardy boys immortalized in book and TV form. Managerial fears over a lawsuit led to the untitled title on the original LP! The audience laughs heartily or nervously, in proportion with their levels of PC sensitivities. This is Loudon being Loudon – he doesn’t care for societal barriers being erected around issues. He follows this with “Unrequited To The Nth Degree”, a tune for “all you hootenanny freaks caught in a time warp”, and the audience are invited to laugh-a-long rather than sing-a-long – I mischievously note that the tasteful ladies refuse to join in with this nonsense and refuse to sing their parts. Well done ladies, I’m proud of you. More pleasingly, the world is delighted to hear that the newly-born baby Rufus is fit, healthy and doing well; “Rufus Is A Tit Man” maybe has too much information but it’s the Wainwright family way and sometimes it’s good-natured fun!

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:47] 4.2.png Loudon Wainwright III - Sweet Nothings (Loudon Wainwright III) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
A2 [03:28] 5.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - The Lowly Tourist (Loudon Wainwright III) Ska / Rocksteady
A3 [02:21] 4.7.png Loudon Wainwright III - Kings And Queens (Loudon Wainwright III, George Gerdes) Country
A4 [02:49] 4.9.png Loudon Wainwright III - Kick In The Head (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
A5 [02:02] 4.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - Whatever Happened To Us (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk Rock / Americana
A6 [03:01] 6.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - Crime Of Passion (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
A7 [02:28] 5.2.png Loudon Wainwright III - Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
B1 [03:15] 6.2.png Loudon Wainwright III - On The Rocks [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk
B2 [02:16] 6.6.png Loudon Wainwright III - Guru [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Folk
B3 [03:25] 7.0.png Loudon Wainwright III - Mr. Guilty [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk
B4 [02:58] 7.9.png Loudon Wainwright III - The Untitled [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk
B5 [03:59] 5.5.png Loudon Wainwright III - Unrequited To The Nth Degree [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk
B6 [02:53] 6.4.png Loudon Wainwright III - Old Friend [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Songwriter
B7 [02:28] 7.8.png Loudon Wainwright III - Rufus Is A Tit Man [live ’74] (Loudon Wainwright III) Alternative Folk

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