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Valley Hi/Some Days You Eat the Bear and Some Days the Bear Eats You

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Valley Hi
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Audio CD, March 16, 2006
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$86.00 $59.98

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Water
  • ASIN: B0000C509W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,849 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Keep On Sailing
2. Old Man At The Mill
3. Shady Lies
4. These Days
5. Leaving Alone
6. 7 Bridges Road
7. Save Your Sorrows
8. What Are You Waiting For
9. Propinquity
10. Blue Blue Day
11. Ol'
12. I Don't Wanna Talk About It
13. A Wailing Goodbye
14. Keep On Sailing
15. Tried So Hard
16. Dirty Work
17. Do I Still Figure In Your Life
18. Home
19. Biloxi
20. The Fault

Editorial Reviews

As a member of Fairport Convention in the late '60s, Ian Matthews helped create a superb fusion of traditional British folk and modern California country-rock. After leaving Fairport in 1969, Matthews was a restless soul, founding two bands in a matter of three years (Southern Comfort and Plainsong) while also putting out solo albums. However, when Elektra signed him to a solo contract in 1973, it was a dream come true. He'd desperately wanted to move to the West Coast and soak in its fertile music scene. Not only did Elektra invite him to record in L.A., they even found him a place to live in the San Fernando Valley. Fully embracing the local aesthetic, Matthews recorded two excellent albums for the label, both of which are included here. Valley Hi, produced by Mike Nesmith, is a near-perfect example of the California country sound, while the self-produced Some Days You Eat the Bear (And Some Days the Bear Eats You) is less twangy and finds Matthews heading in a more pop-oriented direction. Throughout Matthews mixes a few top-notch originals with a terrific selection of covers: songs by Fairport buddy Richard Thompson, Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Crazy Horse, Steely Dan, Steve Young, Jesse Winchester, Gene Clark, and Randy Newman. Graced by Matthews's soft, gentle tenor vocals and an easy-flowing, laid-back sound, this set is essential for any fan of the soothing California sound of the '70s. --Marc Greilsamer

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Their "In Search of Amelia Earhart" album remains a classic to this day.
T. A. Shepherd
Absolutely wonderful for it's earthy to ethereal beauty, one could easily use this work as a background for anything from parties to meditation.
Bubba Pearson
Getting two albums on one CD here makes it a good deal for an enjoyable listen.
R. E. Nunley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By greyhoundude on February 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
the finest West Coast country/rock album ever recorded...certainly one of the most listenable. Track-for-track, it pounds albums by the likes of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, etc, etc, etc into the turf. A large amount of credit (much to Iain's everlasting chagrin) must go to producer Michael Nesmith, whose Countryside Band (Iain wanted boring L.A studio musicians to supply instrumentation....more on that in a bit) was absolutely perfect for these tunes. Nesmith's production shines throughout. The arrangement for "Seven Bridges Road" was directly stolen by the Eagles....that's Nesmith's arrangement you hear on the radio by the Eagles, folks.

Other standout tracks include "Old Man At The Mill," "Keep On Sailing," Richard Thompson's "Shady Lies" (unreleased by Thompson), "Propinquity," and "Blue Blue Day." For some reason, "You Fell Through My Mind" (the B-side of "Seven Bridges Road" and an excellent tune) was not included in this package. It's featured as a bonus track on the now-deleted THE SOUL OF MANY PLACES collection. Go figure. And buy that CD as well, if you can find it.

Unlike Iain's subsequent releases, the cover tunes on VALLEY HI all work. It's a shame that, although he's released some fine albums since, Iain never really reached this level of quality again.

SOME DAYS YOU EAT THE BEAR was released a short time after VALLEY HI and suffers from poor production and a very muddy mix. Saying goodbye to Nesmith and his Countryside Band, Iain employs your typical (for the day) run-of-the-mill mellow country/rock L.A. whiz-kid session players.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Shepherd on January 16, 2007
Format: Audio CD
How nice of them to pair up these two Electra albums on one disc! I've always preferred the "Valley Hi" version of "Keep on Sailing" to the one on "Some Days". Most likely, it's due to the late Red Rhodes' dobro playing. He was the greatest steel guitar player of all time, but more about Iain: Iain was really the best male singer in Fairport and when they lost him, I'm afraid they lost some of the magic that made their first two albums so unique. Anyway, Matthews went on to form Southern Comfort. Their second and third albums come highly recommended. Their sense of ecclectism was uncanny and fresh. That said, Iain found a true partner in Andy Roberts and the two of them formed Plainsong. Their "In Search of Amelia Earhart" album remains a classic to this day. When Plainsong personnel went sour during the recording sessions for their second album, "Now We Are Three", Matthews went solo and teamed up with Michael Nesmith & the First National Band. The result was "Valli Hi", a collection of engaging original material, much of what was from the second Plainsong album sessions. "Keep On Sailing" was the album's signature song, but the real treat here is "Seven Bridges Road", a song The Eagles copied note-for-note. This is the original recording of that nature with Iain doing all the harmony vocals and let this be known here and now: This is the definitive version! Red plays a steel solo that literally comes alive. Richard Thompson's "Shady Lies" is a supurb country ballad as good as any song on "Henry the Human Fly". It seagues from "Old Man at the Mill", a tradition folk song from The Dillards' song book. He does a super reading of Jackson Browne's "These Days". Tom Waits' "Ol' 55" (from "Some Days") never sounded better since it was done back in '74.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. W. Procter on January 17, 2010
Format: MP3 Music
To me Iain Matthews has always been one of those performers that makes good records but not great records. Along with the Plainsong album In Search Of Amelia Earhart, these were the first of his albums I heard - and there are some great songs on all of them. But, for me, there is not enough quality in depth to make them stand out records. I think the problem is partly in the crossover from folk to rock or country-rock, illustrated most clearly in Old Man At The Mill. Other reviewers see it differently but, despite the quality of the playing, it's a song that I can't relate to at all, which is my problem with traditional folk music in general. Country has a similar effect on me - often quoted as being three chords and the truth, I find traditional country more often sounds like three chords and some cliches. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of contemporary country where lyrics get more deeply into the subject matter than, "My woman's been untrue, she's gone and found somebody knew" (Blue Blue Day). For me the strongest tracks on Valley Hi are Iain's own Keep On Sailing and his stellar (probably the best) cover of These Days. The other tracks are also-rans and, again, contrary to other reviews, I find Nesmith's production unsubtle to say the least. For me Some Days You Eat The Bear is a better record, not muddy in production as another reviewer has said, and side one is as good a side of music as Iain has recorded. Ol' 55 was not recorded three years later by The Eagles, their On The Border album was released the same year as Some Days.. I Don't Want To Talk About It is a far better version than Rod Stewart's and I believe Rod would not have recorded it if it hadn't been for this version. And then Everything But The Girl wouldn't have done it either....Read more ›
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