Roger McGuinn: Cardiff Rose (1976)

If you think Bob Dylan is a genius, well, Roger McGuinn also thinks so. How else to explain the desire to keep the mystery man’s show rolling with this studio album? Produced by Mick Ronson, Cardiff Rose is the Rolling Thunder Revue Part Deux, with David Mansfield, Rob Stoner and Howard Wyeth all on board, plus lyricist Jacques Levy (Desire) heavily engaged. It’s not a bad thing to be the Bard’s little brother, of course. The opening “Take Me Away,” which recounts the Rolling Thunder road shows with Dylan, reveals a re-energized Roger McGuinn. What follows are poetic sea chanties (“Jolly Roger”), Desire-era Dylan (“Friend”), a narsty Ian Hunter impersonation (“Rock And Roll Time”) and a loopy ode to Abbie Hoffman (“Partners In Crime”). It closes on a Joni Mitchell original, “Dreamland,” that sounds like her experimental heiness filtered through the Dead. (Mitchell later covered the track on Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter.) Not everything on Cardiff Rose is gold. The Dylan original, “Up To Me,” is essentially “Shelter From The Storm” in its Rolling Thunder rendition with new lyrics, and the two tracks that follow (“Round Table,” “Pretty Polly”) might have been better given that there are only 9 tracks on here. However, song for song this is a strong effort with nice production from Ronson. Oddly, a clear image of McGuinn never emerges on Cardiff Rose. Is he a rocker, a folk historian, a Dylan disciple or a Byrd in restless flight? You won’t find the answer here, but you will find a lot of good music. The expanded CD reissues include a live version of “Dreamland” and a cover of the old Ziggy nugget, “Soul Love” (very cool).

Original LP Version
A1. Take Me Away (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy) (3:00)
A2. Jolly Roger (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy) (4:56)
A3. Rock And Roll Time (Roger McGuinn/Kris Kristofferson/Bob Neuwirth) (2:46)
A4. Friend (Roger McGuinn) (2:07)
A5. Partners In Crime (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy) (4:52)
B1. Up To Me (Bob Dylan) (5:36)
B2. Round Table (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy) (4:05)
B3. Pretty Polly (arranged & adapted by Roger McGuinn) (3:17)
B4. Dreamland (Joni Mitchell) (5:20)

CD reissue bonus tracks
10. Soul Love (demo)
11. Dreamland (live)

The Players
Roger McGuinn (acoustic & electric guitars, vocals), David Mansfield (acoustic & electric guitars, steel guitar, mandolin, violin, banjo, organ, percussion), Mick Ronson (acoustic & electric guitars, recorder, accordion, piano, organ, autoharp, percussion, vocals), Rob Stoner (bass, percussion, vocals), Howard Wyeth (drums, percussion) with Kim Hitchcroft (saxophone), Timothy Schmit (vocals). Produced by Mick Ronson.

The Pictures
Art direction by Ron Coro. Design by John Kehe. Photography by Ethan Russell.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in May 1976 in the US (Columbia, PC 34154), the UK and the Netherlands (CBS, S 81369) and Australia and New Zealand (CBS, SBP 234850) with lyrics innersleeve.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1992 in the US (Columbia, 34154-2).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2002 (Song, 510582).
  3. Re-issued on expanded compact disc on October 19, 2004 in the US (Sundazed, SC-6204) with 2 bonus tracks.
  4. Re-packaged with Roger McGuinn & Band on 2-for-1 compact disc in 2007 in the UK (Beat Goes On, BGOCD-774).
  5. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1546) with 2 bonus tracks.

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