Murray McLauchlan Songs From The Street

This first comprehensive overview of McLauchlan’s lengthy career is an attempt to put him on the same plateau as other Canadian songwriting legends, and in large part Songs From The Street succeeds. It’s been easy to forget his significance since he was among the first Canadian artists to build a sustainable career at home in the early 1970s but song after song on this collection is a poignant reminder. Assembled in chronological order, the real action comes off the top with six tracks from his first two albums, all of which still hold up as bona fide country rock classics. Of particular note is McLauchlan’s famous cover of Warren Zevon’s "Carmelita,” the first thing most people would hear from Zevon for the next four years after his first album was released. From there it’s clear that McLauchlan (like most other singer-songwriters) struggled to adapt to the ensuing musical trends. But the beauty of a compilation such as this is that context can be forgotten. Whereas his 1976 harder-edged album Boulevard was dismissed in the first flash of punk, four tracks from it included here can now be appreciated for their Springsteen-esque celebration of working class life. Even into the ’90s, McLauchlan championed this cause and his co-write with Tom Wilson from this period, "Burned Out Car,” is a latter-day masterpiece. Songs From The Street should be mandatory listening for anyone who cares about Canadian music. (True North)