REVIEW: Harry Dean Stanton with the Cheap Dates Has Necessary Fuel


Harry Dean Stanton with the Cheap Dates – October 1993

I’ve been familiar with the late character actor Harry Dean Stanton’s musical contributions. He appeared musically with the great band The Call (“Let the Day Begin”) led by his late friend Michael Been. On several of their LPs (that also included Garth Brooks from The Band, Bono from U2), Harry played harmonica. 

In the past, there have been some interesting movie actors who turned to recording & performing but Harry (“Kelly’s Heroes,” “Alien,” “The Rose,” “Paris, Texas,” “Twin Peaks,” & “The Green Mile,” among dozens of others) was probably the most Americana-Roots influenced of all.  

In the 60s actor, James Darren had some minor hits, Michael Landon a few, Bruce Willis tried, Billy Bob Thornton too. Actresses Katey Segal & Mare Winningham turned out some fine LPs. But none produced anything that would sustain a career. Harry?  

I think if he had to turn to music he could’ve fared well. He had the look, attitude & if inspired sounded good. On some prior recordings Harry didn’t immediately come off as well but on these tracks, he’s got the necessary fuel. It’s all well-produced. This LP features 9 never-before-released cuts of 100% Proof Harry Dean Stanton.  

Four studio & five live performances at Doug Weston’s Troubadour in West Hollywood. Assisting Harry (vocals/acoustic guitar & harmonica) are members of The Kingbees: Slim Jim Phantom (drums/The Stray Cats), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (pedal steel guitar/The Doobie Brothers), Tony Sales (bass/David Bowie & Iggy Pop), Jamie James (guitar/backing vocals/producer) act as The Cheap Dates. (Co-producer was Greg Allen).  

While the songs are recorded well & some get off better than others. Harry has a persuasive style; he’s engaging & maintains it. Harry Dean Stanton with the Cheap Dates — October 1993(drops Feb 12/Omnivore Recordings).  

Among the 9 cuts, Harry asserts himself right out of the gate with Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” slides into Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land.” While Harry doesn’t have the power Elvis exhibited in that song I liked Harry’s version as well. He has rootsy energy instead of balls-out rock n’ roll. Good interpretation.


I’ll Be Your Baby TonightProvided to YouTube by The Orchard EnterprisesI’ll Be Your Baby Tonight · Harry Dean Stanton · The Cheap Dates · Bob DylanI’ll Be Your Baby Tonight℗ 2021 The…

Among the performances, the majority will be familiar. Harry obviously learned from playing with Michael Been of The Call. Vocal projection, drama & letting your personality drip like syrup through each song. The final cut is a Mexican folk song – not sung perfectly but with lots of sincerity: “Cancion Mixteca,” Harry shows his Texas Tornadoes side. The song needed only a little Flaco Jiminez accordion to flesh it out. Bottom line? You hear Harry’s love for each song with the faithful musicians who made it a celebration & reality for him.  

The 36-minute CD is available:

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