by Kevin Burton
Hot-buttered joy for breakfast baby, Gerry Rafferty is back!
His family is set to release a new CD of his music ten years after his death.
This is big, big news in my house. Rest In Blue is set for release Sept. 3. That’s close enough to my birthday to constitute the most welcome of presents.
The Scottish singer/songwriter died of organ failure in 2011. He is best known for his 1978 smash Baker Street which was number 2 on the Hot 100 for six weeks, and for Stuck In The Middle With You, a song he wrote as a member of Stealers Wheel. There is a new version of the latter on Rest In Blue.
The new set was assembled from uncompleted demos by Rafferty’s daughter Martha. She stripped back the arrangements to highlight her father’s voice, according to www.loudermusic.com.
Comedian Billy Connelly, who sang in Rafferty’s first band, the Scottish folk rock band The Humblebums, says “I’ve never heard Gerry sing so well. He never fails to amaze me.”
If Rafferty is among the most underrated musicians of all time it’s largely his own fault. He was famously disdainful of the commercial side of recording. For example, he never did an American tour to promote Baker Street or any of his other hits.
“His real journey was an inner spiritual one,” Martha Rafferty told Classic Rock in 2018. “He wanted to understand why we were here.”
“I don’t think he felt as if he was shutting himself off from anything of great value. He was disillusioned with the commercial aspect of making music to sell product. He made records because he had to. He was driven to create; it’s what helped him put his inner world back in order,” Martha Rafferty said.
“Gerry Rafferty would rather be good than famous,” said a speaker calling himself Harmless Dave on The Real Music Observer podcast.
One song from the 14-song set, “Slow Down,” has been released. It has that drive that reminds me of the work he did in his late-70s prime. The song’s message reminds me of Billy Joel’s “Vienna.”
The album bears the tag “explicit” because of some of the language on the song “Still In Denial.”
I’ve already seen one critic on one of the Rafferty Facebook fan pages, who somehow got an advance copy, say the new set is “crap” and that Gerry would never have allowed it to be released were he still alive.
With Martha in charge of the mixes I really doubt the product is that bad.
You have to keep in mind that the songs are the ones that somehow were rejected for other projects. So nobody should expect another City to City. But I’m expecting to hear Rafferty’s musical signature brought forth by his daughter.
I will be thrilled to have it no matter what. I wasn’t expecting anything more from him.
It was Rafferty’s music I was spinning during my most productive songwriting period (so far). It’s still the stuff that makes me want to create and makes me want to not settle for good enough.
On a BBC documentary of his life in music, Rafferty talked about “a magical world opening up” when he first learned about harmony singing. That’s the world we go to when listening to his best work.
This Harmless Dave guy from the podcast is a real backer of Rafferty, saying City To City was “Beatle-esque” in its scope and popularity and that Gerry belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Rafferty was more creative and talented that some who are in the Hall. But the Rafferty I’ve learned about from his family and peers on the BBC documentary and elsewhere, would have been horrified at the thought of going into the Hall.
The Hall is thousands of miles from Rafferty’s native Scotland and I’m sure he would say, belongs to some other universe.
I tried to pre-order Rest In Blue but ran into some sort of snag online. I will circle back to that task soon, trust me.