22/11/2013

The Circle Game

Tom Rush
1968

The Circle Game is somehow both endearingly of its time and yet surprisingly timeless. Helping the latter attribute is the presence of several classic songs; Joni Mitchell's "Tin Angel" and "The Circle Game", and "No Regrets", better known in The Walker Brothers' version.

But these tracks are - and this point is of course of prime importance to rock snobs and pop anoraks alike (I leave it to you to decide where I fit) - the originals. In 1968, Joni was an unknown and struggling songwriter, and Rush was trying to promote her. As a result his version predate hers. The contrast is interesting: "Tin Angel" here is a measured, autumnal reading. Joni's own version (from 1969's Clouds) is a brittle, slightly callow version, shrill by comparison.

Nor was Tom Rush any slouch himself as a song writer. Two of the best songs here, "Rockport Sunday" and the now standard "No Regrets", are his own. Again, the difference between the gently acoustic and melancholic original here, and The Walker Brothers lushly orchestrated 1976 cover is primarily one of subtlety. Tom Rush has a nicely understated touch on all of the songs here, even the more upbeat (and slightly less memorable) songs here.

An enjoyable find (thank you, The Mojo Collection) that hadn't registered with me ever before. Worth finding.

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