Jim Croce – Life and Times
1973 – ABC Records
Jim Croce wrote some catch tunes, was a great storyteller, and great mustache wear-er. I didn’t really know much about him, but when looking him up, I found that he died at age 30 in a plane crash after a gig. We’ve all heard some of his music (and if you haven’t, check it out now!), but I had no idea about any of the musicians on these iconic tunes. So I thought that I would do some quick research on the guys that made these songs come to life. For this album, Croce used Gary Chester on the drums. He was a big studio drummer on the East Coast who was featured on hundreds of hits! He was the drummer on “Stand By Me”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “Up on the Roof”, “It’s My Party”, “Sugar, Sugar”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, and “Brown Eyed Girl” as well as tons of others. He obviously was able to quickly hear a song and understand exactly what it needed for its feel. Kenny Ascher, the organist on this recording, co-wrote “The Rainbow Connection”. During his career, he has worked with John Lennon, Carly Simon, John Prine, the J.B.s, Meat Loaf, Rod Stewart as well as many others. He also wrote many jingles during his career. Michael Kamen, who played synthesizer on the Croce album, wrote scores for many movies, including Die Hard. Eric Weissberg, who played violin, was the banjoist the recorded “Dueling Banjos” for Deliverance. There was so much talent on this session. Listening to this album, there is nothing out of place, the instruments serve the music. With so many talented guys on the session, it would be easy to overplay, but that is not what happens here. It is clear that they were all great studio musicians, who were able to put egos aside and play what was called for, nothing more. Life and Times is a really enjoyable record to throw on while you are cleaning, or cooking, or any kind of household chore where you can dance around. Jim Croce had some great stuff, and it is sad that he didn’t get to progress any more in his career, the results would have been interesting!