You might call Jimmy D. Lane a natural born bluesman. His father was the legendary Jimmy Rogers, who Jimmy D. shared the stage with for many years before recording on his own. Lane can play it '50s-style, as he did with his father and on Eomot RaSun's album, but he can also turn it up and rock out with any of the finest guitar slingers. For It's Time, Lane tackles a program of original tunes (except for one), with the aid of Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan's rhythm section. These guys bring decades of experience to their blues rhythms, and know exactly how to support a player like Lane. Keyboard duties are split between Celia Ann Price on B3 and piano, and Mike Finnigan on the B3. In addition, the album was produced and engineered by the one and only Eddie Kramer, who adds crisp, clear production values and some very subtle studio tricks (check out the panning in the slide solo on "Stuck in the Middle"). As a writer, Lane sticks close to standard subject matter "What Makes People" is certainly a close cousin of Willie Dixon's "The Same Thing," but the variety of tempos and grooves and great playing all around keep the album exciting.
Joni Mitchell reached her commercial high point with Court and Spark, a remarkably deft fusion of folk, pop, and jazz which stands as her best-selling work to date. While as unified and insightful as Blue, the album – a concept record exploring the roles of honesty and trust in relationships, romantic and otherwise – moves away from confessional songwriting into evocative character studies: the hit "Free Man in Paris," written about David Geffen, is a not-so-subtle dig at the machinations of the music industry, while "Raised on Robbery" offers an acutely funny look at the predatory environment of the singles bar scene. Much of Court and Spark is devoted to wary love songs: both the title cut and "Help Me," the record's most successful single, carefully measure the risks of romance, while "People's Parties" and "The Same Situation" are fraught with worry and self-doubt (standing in direct opposition to the music, which is smart, smooth, and assured from the first note to the last).
After two late-'60s albums on Columbia, Johnny Winter hit his stride in 1970 working with Rick Derringer and the McCoys, now recruited as his sidemen and collaborators (and proving with just about every note here how far they'd gotten past "Hang on Sloopy"). In place of the bluesy focus on his first two albums, Winter extended himself into more of a rock-oriented mode here, in both his singing and his selection of material. This was hard rock with a blues edge, and had a certain commercial smoothness lacking in his earlier work. Derringer's presence on guitar and as a songwriter saw to it that Winter's blues virtuosity was balanced by perfectly placed guitar hooks, and the two guitarists complemented each other perfectly throughout as well.
10cc's first two albums, recorded under the sponsorship of entrepreneur and one-time pop star Jonathan King, are combined on one disc for this CD reissue. 1973's 10cc shows that from the start, the group had an uncommon command of recording studio technique; the performances are polished, the harmonies superb, and the production flawless and often witty (all the more remarkable from a new band producing themselves, albeit one comprised of music-biz vets). However, the group was still getting up to speed in terms of their songwriting at this point, and while the craft is fine, there isn't a lot of inspiration on hand. Except for the sardonic "Rubber Bullets" and sarcastically sprightly "The Dean and I," the '50s-inspired parodies on side one don't wear well, and most of side two is clever but not terribly distinguished. 1974's Sheet Music was where 10cc truly hit their stride; the album is full of effective barbed humor buffered by the superbly polished production, which leans toward pretension without quite falling into the pool.