And Yet More...

Part of the problem may have been the need to figure out where to file the album. Deep Are The Roots was easy enough to file under Folk or Blues but Living With The Animals? Blues? Rock? Psychedelic? R&B? Assuming you knew of the album’s existence, whereabouts in the store were you going to find it? Tracy’s move to Nashville in 1969 certainly didn’t help either. Touring in support of Living With The Animals she and Travis rented a house there, and she later bought a small farm in the area where she has lived since 1973. 

You can guess the Texas element in Mother Earth found Tennessee too similar to the environment they’d run away from years before, and sought out friendlier environments, but most of them stayed long enough to record the second Mother Earth album, Make A Joyful Noise, co-produced in Nashville by Rivers and Nelson in 1969. As a side project, she also recorded Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country, coaxing Elvis Presley's Sun-era guitarist Scotty Moore out of retirement to produce and play on her version of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's That's All Right Mama

While it’s a pleasant enough album, Make A Joyful Noise isn’t in the same league as its predecessor. There’s an R&B City Side and a Country Side featuring the sort of material you’d associate with Nashville, but the mix doesn’t work as well as the Powell, a couple from Tracy, another Powell, couple more Tracy formula on Living With The Animals

One big difference is that the Texas horns were gone, as were Naftalin and Rains, but in came Boz Scaggs, who Tracy had known back home in Wisconsin, playing rhythm, and drummer Lonnie Castille, formerly with Archie Bell and The Drells, of Tighten Up fame. Another difference is the male vocal foil for Tracy. Powell St John’s still there, but most of the guy songs are handled by Ronald Stallings whose voice might have been adequate but it doesn’t have the same sort of vocal character that Powell added to his tracks on the first album.

The musical chairs continued as time went by, and when the next Mother Earth album, Satisfied, appeared the following year, only Tracy and Toad Andrews were left from the Animals line-up.


B© Ian Hughes 2012