Apr 9, 2011
KENNY RANKIN - MIND-DUSTERS (MERCURY 1967) JVC K2 mastering cardboard sleeve
A pop and standards singer during his long career, Kenny Rankin debuted in 1967 with his first album, Mind Dusters, which featured the soft rock hit "Peaceful." Over the course of the early '70s, Rankin slowly built up a following with a steady stream of records and performances that balanced originals, new songs, and standards. As the decade drew to a close, he began to return to his singer/songwriter roots, particularly on After the Roses, his 1980 debut for Atlantic Records. He continued to perform during the '80s, but he only recorded sporadically. In 1991, he recorded a pair of albums, Hiding in Myself and Because of You, for two separate labels. Three years later, he signed with Private Music and released Professional Dreamer, an album that found him concentrating on standards.
An ideal representation of the acoustic and ethereal side of the early, winsome singer/songwriter sound, this promising debut only hints at Rankin's traditional pop and world music vision. The Tin Pan Alley and ethnic roots of the music he grew up with in New York City are obscured by his alignment with the sounds of some of the artists he covers on the record, including Bob Dylan ("Mr. Tambourine Man"), Gordon Lightfoot ("Song for a Winter's Night"), and, most successfully, Fred Neil ("Dolphin"). "Cotton Candy Sandman" perfectly captures the gauzy, warm glow of mellow love that permeated the musical mood of 1967. The highlight of the album is Rankin's own composition, the inviting "Peaceful," which foreshadows his later work. While the long-out-of-print album only shows glimpses of his full abilities, it has a quaint, antiquated '60s charm and even includes liner notes from none other than Johnny Carson.[allmusic]