Pages of Life

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For the 1922 British silent film, see Pages of Life (film).
Pages of Life
Studio album by The Desert Rose Band
Released January 16, 1990 (1990-01-16)
Genre Country, country rock
Length 40:04
Label MCA/Curb
Producer Ed Seay
Paul Worley
The Desert Rose Band chronology
Running
(1988)
Pages of Life
(1990)
A Dozen Roses – Greatest Hits
(1991)

Pages of Life is the third studio album by the American country music/country rock group The Desert Rose Band. It was released January 16, 1990 via MCA/Curb.

Background[edit]

Following the success of the band's previous albums The Desert Rose Band and Running, both of which entered the top 30 of the US Top Country Albums chart, and a string of hit country singles, the band's third album Pages of Life became their most successful commercially, but also their final charting studio album. The album peaked at #17 on the Top Country Albums chart, and was also the band's only album to enter the American Billboard 200 Albums Chart, where it peaked at #187.[1] It lasted within the Top 200 for a total of four weeks.[2] Like all of the band's albums, it did not chart in Canada. It was produced by both Paul Worley and Ed Seay who had produced all five of the band's albums, except for late 1991’s True Love, whilst only Worley produced the band's self-titled 1987 debut.[3]

The album spawned three successful singles. The lead single "Start All Over Again" peaked at #6 on the US Hot Country Songs chart, and #3 on the Canada RPM Country Tracks chart.[4][5] "In Another Lifetime" was the second single from the album, and the band's third single since 1987 to miss the top 10. It peaked at #13 in the US and #18 in Canada.[1][6] "Story of Love" was the third and final single from the album, and was the band's final Top 30 single, despite the release of a compilation album, two further studio albums and six further singles up to 1993. It peaked at #10 in the US and #6 in Canada.[4][7]

Six of the tracks were written by Hillman and his usual collaborator Steve Hill. "Missing You" was later re-recorded by Hillman and Pedersen for the 2005 various artists compilation Songs for Sophie: A Collings Collective. This release was recorded as a benefit to offset the medical expenses of Sophie McCreary, the ten-year-old daughter of Steve McCreary, general manager of Collings Guitars, Inc., of Austin, TX. The child had been diagnosed with early onset bipolar disorder, and the album was organized and issued by FGM Records, the recording arm of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.[8] "Just a Memory" was the only Desert Rose Band song to feature a writing credit to the band's guitarist John Jorgenson, whilst "Darkness on the Playground" contained an anti-drug message.[9] The album featured two remakes. "Our Baby's Gone" is a remake of Pedersen's folk song about his daughter which was originally recorded with Emmylou Harris for his 1976 album Southwest,[10] and this song features Pedersen on lead vocal, whilst "Desert Rose", written by Hillman and Bill Wildes, originally appeared on Hillman's 1984 album Desert Rose.[11]

In the Little Rock Gazette, (daily newspaper of Little Rock, Arkansas), an article based on the band was published in the July 13, 1990, issue, written by Gazette staff writer Mark Marymont. The author noted that although the group never delved deeply into traditional country, the new album reflected an even harder edge than the first two. Jorgenson was quoted "Maybe what happened is that we had a hand in mixing this album, so those rock elements came out a little more. We wanted this one to sound like we do on stage. It's a little more aggressive. The lines in country music are so stretched that it's difficult to say when something is country and something is rock. But people see we have some traditional country roots, even if it's not real obvious."[12]

For the Pages of Life album, Curb Records released a press release. This stated "Both "The Desert Rose Band" and "Running" were more aggressive albums than what was coming out of Nashville at the time of their release, and "Pages of Life" is no different. The mix of textures and aesthetics takes the edge of rock guitar and applies it to the most traditional sounding country there is." Hillman, within the press release, stated "Story of Love" is your basic 2/4 bluegrass. But then you take a song like "In Another Lifetime" and you've got John Jorgenson playing guitar like Eric Clapton."[13] The release continued "If it sounds incongruous, remember that country music has always been the white man's blues and that songs of real life are what sets country apart. Certainly if there's an area where Hillman excels it's in writing songs that take the pulse of his contemporaries and the society in which we live. "Start All Over Again," the first single and already a hit, sets the tone for "Pages of Life," as it balances the notion of trying to reclaim one's own destiny in the face of perhaps insurmountable problems in a relationship. The same can be said for the plucky acoustic country of "Missing You". But then things get serious with "Darkness on the Playground," a song about the perils of drugs, peer pressure and neglect facing our nation's children, and "Everybody's Hero," which deals with the clay feet of the people who are often supposed to be setting the standard. If it sounds potentially disillusioning and disheartening, that's not the case. These are songs of options, consideration and hope in the face of it all. Given that Hillman has always avoided the glass-dome world of most pop stars, his point of view is startlingly accurate. But, that's because he's in step with the rest of society - and that's something he and the rest of the Desert Rose Band are extremely proud of." Hillman stated "Writing these kinds of songs is never intentional. If you sit down to write a song about one of these subjects, it becomes contrived. So, I just try to write about what's on my mind and hope that it reflects what other people are thinking, too." Hillman also spoke of the band, stating "Start All Over Again" is the result of three year of evolving; it's where we've come to and I think it's a real solid unit. We're a real good band that plays together. We have songs of substance that are played real well - and we have a passion for this music, which you can hear. Where we go from here is just a matter of continuing evolution. As long as we can maintain our parameters; keep making music that matters and continue growing, it'll be fine."[13]

Release[edit]

The album was issued on LP, cassette and CD in America, as well as on CD in Canada, via Curb and MCA Records.[14] A longbox edition of the CD was also issued.[15] The CD continues to remain in print,[16] whilst downloadable MP3 versions of the album were made available circa 2010 via sites such as Amazon and iTunes.[17][18]

Promotion[edit]

During 1990, the band embarked on a tour to promote the album, where they headlined the majority of the dates. They also spent a week in Las Vegas opening for the Oak Ridge Boys. As a marketing attempt the album cover, as well as the band's publicity photos only featured Hillman, Pederson and Jorgenson. Jorgenson explained "That was some kind of marketing deal, done on the theory that the audience could recall three of us easier than six guys. But the other guys are full-fledged members of the band and they all make a big contribution."[12]

A music video was created for "In Another Lifetime", whilst the band made TV appearances for the three singles, which included such shows as Nashville Now - an American country music television talk show, presented by Ralph Emery.[19]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Story of Love" (Steve Hill, Chris Hillman) – 2:32
  2. "Start All Over Again" (Hill, Hillman) – 4:29
  3. "Missing You" (Hillman, Tom Russell, Richard Sellars) – 3:51
  4. "Just a Memory" (Hillman, John Jorgenson) – 3:31
  5. "God's Plan" (Hill, Hillman) – 4:10
  6. "Darkness on the Playground" (Hill, Hillman) – 4:53
  7. "Our Baby's Gone" (Herb Pedersen) – 2:44
  8. "Time Passes Me By" (Hill, Hillman) – 3:01
  9. "Everybody's Hero" (Hillman, Michael Woody) – 3:18
  10. "In Another Lifetime" (Hill, Hillman) – 4:50
  11. "Desert Rose" (Hillman, Bill Wildes) – 2:45

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[3]
Toledo Blade favorable[20]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[21]

Allmusic's Rovi Staff noted "This contains "In Another Lifetime," "Time Passes Me By," "Start All Over Again," and other favorites." "Start All Over Again" and "In Another Lifetime" were highlighted as stand-out tracks by being labelled as AMG Pick Tracks.[3]

Los Angeles Times writer Randy Lewis reviewed the album on January 28, 1990. He stated "Is there a better country-rock band around today than Chris Hillman's? When you listen to the group's sure-footed third album, it's hard to think of any. As the title suggests, there is plenty of meaty material here. Fortunately, it is pages of life, not the whole book, that the band addresses, and by keeping the focus tight, the album succeeds in tackling big issues in modest ways. Desert Rose supplies solace in both affirming word and uplifting music. Many of the song spring from an understated foundation of Christian faith and underscore in various ways what may be the toughest problem facing the last decade of the 20th Century: hopelessness. "Darkness on the Playground" is the album's gripping centerpiece."[21]

Toledo Blade writer Ken Rosenbaum's review of the album was published on February 18, 1990, where he stated "Chris Hillman's group takes the same mixture of country and easy rock that worked for him before and, with some evolution, rides it to the top again. The lazy twang of bluegrass-flavored social commentary is sharpened by the snap of John Jorgenson's electric guitar. Mellow three-part harmonies are tied together in a sparkling package by bass, drums and the warmth of pedal steel. There is no doubt that this music is more country than rock, even though the vocalists have less twang and far more range than most country singers. Where it shines the most is in the biting lyrics and dare-to-confront stance of social concern, such as "Darkness on the Playground," which decries the perils of drugs and peer pressure. To be sure, there are plenty of country songs elsewhere that lament social crises, but too often they aren't part of really fine music like you'll find here. Not all is designed to test your conscience, either, because "Story of Love" and "Missing You" are country-rock gems designed for listening pleasure, not reflection. "Pages of Life" is a satisfying collection that you'll enjoy giving many readings."[20]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums[1] 17
U.S. Billboard 200[1] 187

Personnel[edit]

  • Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Chris Hillman
  • Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on "Our Baby's Gone", Acoustic Guitar – Herb Pedersen
  • Backing Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mandolin – John Jorgenson
  • Pedal Steel Guitar – Jay Dee Maness
  • Bass – Bill Bryson
  • Drums, Percussion – Steve Duncan
  • Producers – Ed Seay, Paul Worley

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Pages of Life - Desert Rose Band | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Desert Rose Band - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  3. ^ a b c "Pages of Life - Desert Rose Band | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  4. ^ a b Artist Biography by Steve Huey. "Desert Rose Band | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  5. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  6. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  8. ^ Review by William Ruhlmann. "Songs for Sophie: A Collings Collective - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  9. ^ "The Desert Rose Band - History". Drb-fans.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  10. ^ "Herb Pedersen - Southwest at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  11. ^ "Chris Hillman - Desert Rose at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  12. ^ a b http://www.drb-fans.com/images/reviews/DRB%201990%2007-13.pdf
  13. ^ a b http://www.drb-fans.com/images/reviews/DRB%201990%2001-01.pdf
  14. ^ "Desert Rose Band - Pages Of Life at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  15. ^ http://www.drb-fans.com/longboxes.html
  16. ^ "Pages Of Life: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  17. ^ "desert rose band pages of life: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  18. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/pages-of-life/id77673732
  19. ^ "Desert Rose Band "Start All Over Again."". YouTube. 1990-01-03. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  20. ^ a b http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JklPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=LAMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6739,4047345&dq=desert+rose+band+story+love&hl=en
  21. ^ a b http://www.drb-fans.com/images/reviews/DRB%201990%2001-28.pdf