ARTIST: Harry Chapin
TITLE: Verities & Balderdash
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #4
SINGLES: Cats in the Cradle (#1 US, #53 UK), I Wanna Learn a Love Song (#44 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 30,000 Pounds of Bananas
LINEUP: Harry Chapin, John Tropea, Don Payne, Allan Schwartzberg, Don Grolnick, Ron Bacchiocchi
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A breakthrough to the mainstream, with a few pop-flavored and light songs, but there are still some preachy overwrought songs lurking about.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With this batch of songs, Chapin’s producer Paul Leka decided that session musicians would be better than Chapin’s road band to convey the songs, and it was a good decision as “Cat’s in the Cradle” became the big hit, and the song most identified with Chapin.
While the message of that song is important and resonates to this day, it’s obvious that there was more to Chapin that just the stories songs about relationships, love and societal ills. Two tracks, “Six String Orchestra” and “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” showed Chapin’s sense of humor, which had been lacking in his other material.
A couple of cuts really get into the preachy mode, as his earnest liberalism, while admirable, can come off as heavy-handed. Also, while the session musicians made the sound more radio friendly, it also seemed sterile as compared with his first album. It’s worth a listen if you’re a Chapin fan, or a singer-songwriter fan.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The incident in “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” really happened, in 1965, in Scranton Penn-sylll-vania
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B: The at-times sterile production and a few overwrought songs aside, this is his best since his debut.