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Steve Sherman - It Is WhatIt Is (LP)

Steve Sherman - It Is WhatIt Is (LP)

Price: $150.00 currently not available     
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Genre: country-rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  It Is What It Is ...
Company: Tiger Lily
Catalog: TL 14136
Year: 1976
Country/State: --
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6104
Price: $150.00

So here's another Morris Levy Tiger Lily tax scam label obscurity. As far as I can tell, the web has a single eighty seven word review of this collection, so yeah, it's pretty scarce and largely unknown.

As you'd expect from a tax scam release, 1976's cleverly-titled "It Is What It Is ..." reflected scant information on namesake Steve Sherman, or the circumstances surrounding the album. No performance credits (other than 'Steve Sherman and friends') and no production information, though Don Bell, Mark Saichek, and Ed Sison were listed as engineers. For some weird reason the cover photographer was also listed (Gail Ellison). This is just speculation on my part, but the fact the songwriting credits were split between Sherman and Mark Saichek, the fact it sounded like there were a couple of male lead singers and one of the songs ('I Don't Want a Big Heartache') featured a female vocalist, this sounded like a group effort rather than a Sherman solo album. It would be interesting to know how Tiger Lily got their hands on this one. So now you probably want to know what this puppy sounds like ... Well, if you were into early-1970s country-rock like Firefall, The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco then there was a good chance this set would strike your fancy. As exemplified by tracks like 'Us Two' and 'Dusty Road', Sherman had a likeable and commercial voice that was actually more rock than twang,. With writing credits split between Sherman and Saichek the nine songs were all quite good with commercial, FM radio-friendly melodies and nice male/female harmonies.

- 'Us Two' was a nice country-rock ballad with some pretty male/female vocals, a pretty melody, and an excellent guitar solo. The track would have made Gram Parsons proud. rating: *** stars
- To my ears, 'Smile On Me' sounded as good as anything in the Firefall/Poco country-rock catalogs. Yeah, there was plenty of pedal steel guitar, but the song still had a rock base and once again the backing vocals were wonderful. rating: *** stars
- One of my choices for standout performance, 'Dusty Road' was another country-rocker with a hook that clawed its way into your head and wouldn't let go. rating: *** stars
- In spite of a decent hook, the banjo-propelled 'I Can't Stop My Heart From Singin'' was simply too country for my taste ... rating: ** stars
- 'Cracklin' Fires' was another pleasant mid-tempo track with some nice pedal steel guitar and another tasty chorus and a great lead guitar. rating: *** stars
- Side two started out with 'I Don't Want a Big Heartache' which was different from the rest of the collection in that it featured an anonymous female lead singer. Whoever she was, she had a decent enough voice, though the song wasn't any great deal. rating: ** stars
- The album's prettiest song, 'Dust and Ashes' had one of those 'heartbreak' ballads with a set of lyrics that you either loved, or found cloying. I'm in the former category. Maybe it was just my ears, but this one sounded like it had a different lead singer ... rating: **** stars
- The collection's most rock-oriented number, 'Breezy Day' was also the set's best number. Driven by a killer lead guitar solo, this one would have sounded great on radio. Shame they didn't do more stuff in this vein since it was quite good. rating: **** stars
- 'I'll Be Around' was another standout performance. Yeah, this was definitely a country-rocker, but the emphasis this time out was on rock. Kicked along by some nice drumming this one had an urgency not found on much of the album. It almost sounded like a demo that had luckily not yet been subjected to post-production polishing. rating: **** stars

Like I said earlier, given the album's professional production and sound, I'm guessing this was a shelved collection that someone sold on the cheap to Tiger Lily. Anyone out there got the scoop on this one ...

"It Is What It Is ..." track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Us Two (Steve Sherman - Darryl Lieberstein) -
2,) Smile On Me (Mark Saichek) -
3.) Dusty Road (Mark Saichek) -
4.) I Can't Stop My Heart From Singin' (Steve Sherman) -
5.) Cracklin' Fires (Steve Sherman) -

(side 2)
1.) I Don't Want a Big Heartache (Steve Sherman) -
2.) Dust and Ashes (Mark Saichek) -
3.) Breezy Day (Mark Saichek) -
4.) I'll Be Around (Mark Saichek) -
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