Gerry Beckley – Keeping The Light On – 2 CDs
With a handsome 44pp perfect-bound insert this 2-CD retrospect from the solo career of the illustrious singer/songwriter & co-founder of the band America Gerry Beckley documents 20-songs on Keeping The Light On– The Best of Gerry Beckley (Blue Elan Records-Drops March 26).
The songs culled from solo LPs from his 1st in ‘95 through 2020’s “Five Mile Road” contain interesting chestnuts like “Watching the Time,” that features the Beach Boys’ late Carl Wilson vocals & Van Dyke Parks (accordion). The song was written by Gerry with Chicago’s Robert Lamm & Wilson is a lost treasure. On bass Jason Scheff from the band Chicago (also the son of Elvis Presley’s bassist Jerry Scheff who also played with The Doors).
While many songs are not earth-shaking each has something of value to offer that falls out of the realm of the band America. “Calling You,” is a well-sung haunting atmospheric ballad with fervent playing.
Beckley’s not an artist whose music is mediocre. There’s substance. The majority are well-arranged & many are pleasurable. “Goodbye Highway” has an Al Jardine Beach Boy quality. A fine melody with expressive percussion/piano delicately balanced & could’ve been appropriate for America. Beckley plays all instruments though an uncredited lead guitar isn’t listed.
There are unreleased songs & a variety of musicians who contribute to tracks. Nick Lane adds trombone to the lovely “Always,” from Beckley’s solo LP “Unfortunate Casino (2011).
CD 2 starts with a 2019 song “Hang Your Head High,” that’s rousing, with a wholly different Gerry vocal solidly reminiscent of the English band Stackridge vocals (once produced by George Martin) of Andy Davis & James Warren (“Boots & Shoes” “North St. Grande”). And that’s good. This is a little dynamic piece produced by Gerry (all instruments & vocals). More like this.
Gerry continued with an unreleased masterpiece “I’m Your Heart Slave,” in that Stackridge tradition — with Jeff Larson’s additional vocal. Beckley plays all instruments again & the accordion — a nice touch. Something the late Gerry Rafferty would’ve done. Wonderful music, absolutely wonderful.
The 2nd CD is strong & Gerry doesn’t replicate America’s sound; he has found his niche. His diversification is sharp. Not entirely edgy but he doesn’t have that kind of voice. However, as displayed on “Cup of Rain,” a densely woven little ballad beautifully rendered.
The unreleased ’98 “How Can I Turn You Away,” with its wildly weeping lead guitar (Hank Linderman) & chiming backup guitars has a typical Eagles touch applied imaginatively. Don Henley, are you listening?
Closing the 2 CDs is “Home Again,” (originally from “Five Mile Road)” & the title cut with its sharp acoustic guitars are full-band pieces well-arranged & showcased. Individual producers & musicians are listed on each page of the insert. This is an enthusiastic collection, & well-packaged.
The 1st CD @ 32-minutes/CD #2 @ 38-minutes. Available @ https://www.gerrybeckley.com/