Jim Capaldi: Whale Meat Again (1974)

This was the first Jim Capaldi album I ever owned and, truth be told, I didn’t dig it much at first. I filed it somewhere between John Lennon’s Walls and Bridges and Ringo’s “with a lot of help from my friends” albums, but without the magical mystery of The Beatles. Since then, however, I’ve done a lot more digging in the latter-day Traffic albums and Capaldi’s first album looking for something of value, and find that none of them deliver the goods quite so much as Whale Meat Again. Recorded between Traffic albums and once more featuring the Muscle Shoals band, Capaldi’s second album is structured very similar to his first; “It’s All Right” even sounds like a breezy version of “Eve.” Whale Meat Again also feels like a weightier record. The seven-minute “Yellow Sun” and eight-minute “Summer Is Fading” invite comparison to Traffic’s longer tracks, while songs like “Low Rider” and “Whale Meat Again” return to Capaldi’s dark lyrical haunts (i.e., no bad/sad couplets here). The vocals on this album are better too, channeling John Lennon on “My Brother” and “Whale Meat Again” (the title track always reminds me a little of “Woman is the Nigger of the World”). Missing here is the scorching lead guitar work of Paul Kossoff and Dave Mason, replaced by the in-house artistry of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section’s Pete Carr and Jimmy Johnson. It could be Kossoff and Mason that tilt critics in favor of Capaldi’s first record, but I’d argue that his second is stronger. It’s also a nicely packaged record, with an illustrated lyric sleeve that recalls Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Original LP Version
A1. It’s All Right (4:12)
A2. Whale Meat Again (4:33)
A3. Yellow Sun (7:16)
A4. I’ve Got So Much Lovin’ (4:45)
B1. Low Rider (5:40)
B2. My Brother (5:02)
B3. Summer Is Fading (8:30)

All songs written by Jim Capaldi.

The Players
Jim Capaldi (vocals), Barry Beckett (piano, steel drum, electric piano, synthesiser), Pete Carr (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, dobro slide guitar), Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass), Jimmy Johnson (electric guitar), Muscle Shoals Horns (horns) with Remi Kabaka (percussion on B1), Gaspar Lawal (drums on B3), Laurence Peabody (backing vocals), Derek Quinn (cabassa on B3), Rabbit (piano & organ on A2), Reebop (conga on B3), Harry Robinson (string arrangement), Jean Roussel (bass, clavinet), Potato Smith (backing vocals), Chris Stainton (organ on A3), Viv Stanshall (original idea for B3), Chris Stewart (fuxx bass on B2), Bubs White (electric & acoustic guitars on B3), Steve Winwood (pipe organ, organ, bass). Produced by Jim Capaldi. Recording engineered by Steve Melton; mix engineered by Howard Kilgour (except Phil Brown on A4). Tape operators: Rhett Davies and Richard Elen.

The Pictures
Front cover photography by Richard Polak. Back cover photography by Don & Natalie Neff. Art and design by Tony Wright.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in June 1974 in the UK, the US and Canada (Island, ILPS 9254), Australia and New Zealand (Island, L35224), Germany (Island, 88010IT) and Japan (Island, ILS-80073) with lyric sleeve; reached #191 on the US charts. UK and US/CAN elpee versions feature a different Island label design, in case you care about these things. (You do, don’t you? It’s all right.) Re-issued on CD on December 17, 1996 in the UK (Edsel, EDCD 503).

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