Combing Through The Autumn Of 1976

Originally posted March 26, 2008

It was, evidently, the autumn of 1976 when Asylum Records released In One Eye And Out The Other, the second album by the Cate Brothers, a pair of Arkansas-bred siblings whose music is a stew of southern music: soul, country and a little bit of blues. I’ve seen the duo’s music described as “blue-eyed soul,” but that doesn’t seem to work. I guess, as their fellow Arkansawn (what do you call someone who lives in the Diamond State, anyway?) Levon Helm noted, when you mix all those influences together, you get rock ’n’ roll.

I’m basing the autumn release date on the list of Asylum releases at BSN Publications, a handy site that provides detailed histories and discographies for an extraordinary number of record labels. The Cate Brothers’ record falls numerically between Jackson Browne’s The Pretender and Hoodoo, an unissued John Fogerty album. Moving a step further in each direction, we find that trio of records bracketed by Tom Waits’ Small Change and Harry Chapin’s On The Road To Kingdom Come. There are no release dates listed, but we still have a little more data to work with.

The discography notes that the Waits album peaked at No. 89 on the album charts in November of 1976. The Pretender peaked at No. 5 in that same month. The Cate Brothers’ album reached No. 182 in October 1976, and the Chapin record went to No. 87 in October of 1976. Sort through all of that, and it doesn’t take a huge leap to figure out that the Cate Brothers’ album was released – and sank out of sight rather quickly – in the autumn.

What were people listening to in that autumn? Let’s look at the first week of October.

The Billboard Top 15 singles were:

“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry (in its third week at No. 1)
“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley
“A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band
“Disco Duck” by Rick Dees and His Cast Of Idiots
“Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs
“Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard
“Summer” by War
“If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago
“(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” by K.C and the Sunshine Band
“Still The One” by Orleans
“Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac
“A Little Bit More/A Couple More Years” by Dr. Hook
“Getaway” by Earth, Wind and Fire
“She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates
“With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship

Boy, that’s not a very good list. The singles by Boz Scaggs, War, EWF and Hall & Oates are good (I know some folks find Hall & Oates and/or “She’s Gone” intolerable, but it’s a time-and-place song for me), and some of the rest are just okay. I think “Say You Love Me” is one of the Mac’s worst singles, the Starship single – and most of the Starship catalog – is dreck, and I never got the appeal of Cliff Richard. And there’s other stuff on there that’s just mystifying to this day. Given the taste of the public in the late months of 1976, the Cate boys never had a chance. Of course, I doubt if Asylum ever released a single from In One Eye And Out The Other anyway.

But the album was out there, and, as I noted above, it peaked at No. 182 sometime in October. Let’s see what was at the top end of the album chart in the first week of the month:

Frampton Comes Alive! By Peter Frampton
Silk Degrees by Boz Scaggs
Hasten Down The Wind by Linda Ronstadt
Fleetwood Mac by Fleetwood Mac
Wild Cherry by Wild Cherry
Greatest Hits by War
Spirit by John Denver
Spitfire by Jefferson Starship
Fly Like An Eagle by the Steve Miller Band
Chicago X by Chicago

For what it matters, the Frampton album spent ten weeks at No. 1 and fifty-six weeks in the Top 40. If you had to choose one single sound to sum up the Bicentennial year of 1976, it might be Peter Frampton talking through his guitar and vocoder.

That’s not a bad list of albums. I have a few qualms: I don’t have any affinity for Wild Cherry, and John Denver had lost me long before Spirit. I assessed the Starship above (I do like the 1975 album Red Octopus). The Chicago album was pleasant if not the revolutionary music the group had promised us back in 1970. (Go read the notes to Chicago, the silver album, to see what I mean.)

I could moan about the injustice of the music business, but it would be pretty silly to do so. It’s an unfair business in an unfair world, and when someone’s rather good record didn’t sell, it’s just the way things went. Besides, I wasn’t listening to the Cate Brothers back then, either. I think if I’d heard them, I might have bought the album. It’s music I would have liked.

But I didn’t hear the Cates until sometime in the mid-1990s, when I began to read record guides closely and look at credits on the album sleeves and backs. The credits on In One Eye And Out The Other are pretty impressive.

Steve Cropper produced the album and added his guitar to six of the record’s ten tracks. Cropper’s fellow MG, Duck Dunn, plays bass on five tracks. David Foster – now one of the most successful producers in the business – plays several different keyboards on six tracks. And two of my favorite horn players show up: Jim Horn plays on “Can’t Stop” and he and Bobby Keys both play on “Travelin’ Man.”

Highlights? I like the first track, “Start All Over Again,” the funky title track, the sorrowful “Music Making Machine” and the record’s closer, “Where Can We Go,” on which Foster shines on organ. There’s really not a bad song on the record, although the synth string effects on a couple of songs sometimes soften things a little too much.

In One Eye And Out The Other isn’t a lost classic. It’s a good album that serves as one more reminder that there’s always a lot of good music out in the non-radio world that we might hear only if we dig a little.

Tracks:
Start All Over Again
In One Eye And Out The Other
Can’t Stop
Stuck In Chicago
Travelin’ Man
Give It All To You
Music Making Machine
Let’s Just Let It Be
I Don’t Want Nobody (Standing Over Me)
Where Can We Go

Cate Brothers – In One Eye And Out The Other [1976]

(Note: There are several spots where it seemed the record skipped as I ripped it. Working with the record doesn’t correct them, and I’m not sure if they’re skips or funky bits of meter on the part of the musicians. If they’re skips, I’m sorry.)

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One Response to “Combing Through The Autumn Of 1976”

  1. Listen To The Train Wreck « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] In One Eye and Out The Other by the Cate Brothers, 1977 Original post here. […]

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