Following Jeff Arundel’s ‘Compass’

Originally posted August 13, 2008

A while back, one of my fellow board members at Groovy Fab posted a copy of Ride the Ride, the second album by Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jeff Arundel. I liked it, but more importantly, it reminded me that I had Arundel’s first CD, Compass, waiting to be packed with the others.

Compass came out in 1993, while I was living on Pleasant Avenue in south Minneapolis. One of my Sunday near-rituals during that time was taking the Sunday paper and walking over to Grand Avenue, the next street over, where my friend Jimmy owned Mojo’s, a coffeehouse. I’d sip a latte with vanilla and maybe nibble on a croissant while I looked over the paper. And there was good music, usually something from Jimmy’s extensive CD collection, but occasionally the sounds of Acoustic Sunrise, the Sunday morning show on Cities 97 that was as mellow as its title suggests.

I think that’s where I first heard Jeff Arundel. “One True Love,” the opening track to Compass, got a lot of airplay on Cities 97 that year. In fact, I heard it so often that I began to tire of the song, and that doesn’t happen very frequently with songs I like. I imagine it was the combination of a good song and a local artist that sparked the heavy airplay. After a time, of course, the airplay faded, and that happened about the same time I quit listening to Cities 97: I was trying to listen to the LPs I was bringing home faster than I could play them, so I played the radio at home a lot less, and I took a job in downtown Minneapolis and took the bus to work instead of driving, which cut down my radio time further.

And I pretty much forgot about Jeff Arundel until I began my regular digging in the clearance racks at Half Price Books in late 1999 and early 2000. I found a copy of Compass and thought it was pretty good. As All-Music Guide indicates in its main page on Arundel, his work falls in the tradition of Jackson Browne and James Taylor. (In fact, as I listened to bits of Compass again this morning, I heard very clear echoes of Taylor, not only in the material and instrumentation but in the actual diction, the emphasis on certain words and syllables.)

I’m pretty sure that I ripped Compass to mp3s when I got my first PC in early 2000 (prior to that, I’d used an old Mac for writing and playing a few games but nothing more). Somewhere along the line, though, I deleted Arundel’s work in one of my occasional weedings of mp3s on the hard drive. And when I heard Ride the Ride the other day, I realized I missed Compass. So as I was packing the CDs, I grabbed two or three to rip as I boxed the others, and Compass was one of them.

I haven’t had time to really dig into the CD again. I can say that I still like “One True Love,” and I like Arundel’s cover of “Ride Captain Ride,” the song that Blues Image took into the Top Ten in 1970. And, looking at the scan of the cover art at All-Music Guide (my CD is now packed into one of the boxes that make our apartment an obstacle course these days), I really wish I had the album on vinyl so I could see the cover in a larger format.

Beyond those specifics, all I can say is that Arundel is good, and Compass was a good debut album. His work isn’t widely available – I think Compass has gone out of print – but it’s out there, and you could do a lot worse than to keep an eye opened for Compass and the rest of Arundel’s admittedly slender catalog.

One True Love
Me and My Bad Mood
Life Goes On
Didn’t Dare Stop
Harriet Tubman
Elmwood Place (Cold Wind Blows)
Little Step Up
No Escape
Ride Captain Ride
The Promise

Jeff Arundel – Compass [1993]

Edited slightly on archival posting July 27, 2011.


One Response to “Following Jeff Arundel’s ‘Compass’”

  1. jeff arundel Says:

    thanks for these kind words-there are three more (newer) records, if you want them, email me at, thanks,=JA

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