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Rafferty, Gerry: Can I Have My Money Back? (remaster)

There's little doubt that most people will immediately think of the song "Baker Street" when they hear the name Gerry Rafferty, or maybe the Stealers Wheel number, "Stuck In The Middle With You". However, before both, Rafferty had already established a solo career through his 1971 debut album, Can I Have My Money Back?, which while not a huge commercial success still sounds quite wonderful some 36 years later.

While still holding a folk-rock heart, "Baker Street" is seen largely as a slick, sax infused pop track. However Rafferty, through his Irish and Scottish family roots, was steeped in folk music, and his ability to combine a genuine love of that traditional style with a more, by 70s standards, contemporary style, was possibly never better illustrated than through his first outing. Having just split with his Humblebums band mate Billy Connolly, Rafferty signed on to Transatlantic Records and invited his old friend Joe Egan onboard to provide sumptuous harmony backing vocals. Guitarists Rab Noakes (Lindisfarne) and Alan Parker (Blue Mink) and, amongst many others, drummer Henry Spinetti (George Harrison, Eric Clapton) also played key roles in the album, but even with those hugely respected sidemen to the stars on show, it's the confident songwriter himself who catches the eye. Using his family and life as inspiration for his lyrics, the album's title track recounts the days, when as a kid, Rafferty and his friends would shout for for their money back when a movie would regularly start to jump around on the local cinema screen. Whereas "Mary Skeffington" was an ode to Rafferty's mother and stands as one of the best moments in his canon.

In terms of style the album is a stripped down version of what would eventually take Rafferty to fame and fortune, acoustic guitar and voice often the basis from which his assembled cast of electric guitarists, bassists, drummers, steel guitarists, violinists and pianists would embellish music that obviously comes from the heart. That said, it's Rafferty's voice and the manner in which it combines with Egan's that really makes each and every song on this album the masterful feat they are. From the almost Americana meets The Beatles of "Make You Break You", to the harmonium infused "To Each And Everyone", or from the more rocking "Mr. Universe" to the beautiful country inspired "Didn't I?" there isn't a single missed step on the whole album. With this reissue coming expertly remastered and featuring the excellent b'side bonus track, "So Bad Thinking", and an interesting new essay from Malcolm Dome which carries quotes from Rafferty himself, this is the way to experience, it.

With the lack of commercial success the album inexplicably suffered from, Rafferty and Egan would form Stealers Wheel, which would bring them both critical and commercial acclaim, before the band imploded amid all manner of claims and counterclaims. Rafferty would go solo again with worldwide success just round the corner, although with an uneasy relationship with public life, his solo career would become more and more sporadic after an initial four albums in a five year flurry between 1979 and 1982. However, his real battle was with alcohol, and sadly in 2011 the hugely talented musician would lose the fight, passing away due to liver failure. The legacy of music he left behind is quite astounding and Can I Have My Money Back? remains an under appreciated gem to this day.


Track Listing
1. NEW STREET BLUE
2. DIDN'T I?
3. MR UNIVERSE
4. MARY SKEFFINGTON
5. THE LONG WAY ROUND
6. CAN I HAVE MY MONEY BACK?
7. SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE
8. MAKE YOU, BREAK YOU
9. TO EACH AND EVERYONE
10. ONE DRINK DOWN
11. DON'T COUNT ME OUT
12. HALF A CHANCE
13. WHERE I BELONG
BONUS TRACK
14. SO BAD THINKING

Added: March 5th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Can I Have My Money Back? at Cherry Red
Hits: 176
Language: english

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