That’s Been Fifty Years Ago… 50 Years of the CDB Part 6: Nightrider
'Fire on the Mountain' had been a major step forward and dad finally found his real singing voice and accolades were pouring in for this landmark album.
Then, the unthinkable happened, three band members up and quit and left to form another band.
All of a sudden, the CDB was without a guitar player, a bass player and a second drummer, but the exodus would pave the way for members who would be synonymous with the band for many years to come.
Drummer Don Murray was hired as was Charlie Hayward who played bass from 1975 to 2020 when dad went home, and then came guitar master, Tommy Crain, who previously played as the opening band for the very first Volunteer Jam and traded guitar licks with dad until he wanted to spend more time with his family in 1989.
With the exception of Don Murray who would leave the band in 1978, this would be the CDB lineup that most people remember, Taz, Tommy, Charlie Hayward and Freddie Edwards.
Things worked well with producer, Paul Hornsby, so they went back to Capricorn Studios in Macon, GA to record the follow-up to ‘Fire on the Mountain,’ Nightrider.
It feels very similar to FOTM, the album cover’s art (also by FOTM’s cover artist, Flournoy Holmes) has similarities, the main scene overlooks a valley in a circle but with two birds in the upper corners and two cowboys in the lower corners.
The album kicks off with an ever-popular song called “Texas,” which would end up five years later being the song played in the opening credits of “Urban Cowboy,” although the producers did some editing and added a guitar solo to fill out the credits.
It’s one of my favorites, and the CDB played it for many years, even making a vocal event out of it with Lee Roy Parnell and Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson in 1998.
Next up is “Willie Jones,” which is another one of my favorites, telling the story of a prisoner in Baltimore who longs for his Alabama home. He makes friends with one of the guards and tells him vivid stories about his home.
The song was also covered by Bobby Bare and dad did a guest vocal on Bobby’s version.
Next up, Tommy Crain performs his first song on a CDB album, "Franklin Limestone," a soft country-flavored tune which is an ode to growing up, living and loving in the great state of Tennessee. The ending briefly moves from a soft country song to uptempo rockin' guitars blazing for the last 45 seconds of the song.
Evil is a cover of a song from Te John, Grease and Wolfman. The biggest difference is the guitar work and dad sings the entire lead vocal instead of trading off with Taz as he did in the original. And once again, this song was the first mention of the Wooley Swamp in a CDB song sung from the point of view of a man who describes himself as pure evil.
“Everything is Kinda All Right” is a pure country ballad about a man who is happy in his relaxed and carefree life, Tommy and dad shine with a great dual lead guitar solo, and the piano solo is pure Taz.
“Funky Junky” which was previously recorded for ‘Honey in the Rock”/Uneasy Rider” received a complete makeover from previous versions. This one is a bluesy guitar-driven that would have been at home on an Allman Bros. album.
The groove of “Funky Junky” on this album is one of my favorites.
Speaking of the Allmans, next up is “Birmingham Blues” an uptempo southern rock song that would have fit right into the set of the guys from Macon featuring some great B3 work. The song is about a man who is down on his luck living in Los Angeles who misses his home in Birmingham and the woman he lost.
There’s another country song on the album, “Damn Good Cowboy,” about a cowboy who had lived rowdy cowboy life from being in Mexican jails, and rodeoing, but now he’s likely to be found drunk, but he had fun...
“He’s a victim of his fate
born a hundred years too late
Sometimes I think a hundred years too soon”
“He’s a damn good cowboy
and I hope the hell he stays in Tennessee.
It may not be one of the best-known CDB songs, but it is entertaining and contains some nice pedal steel work from Toy Caldwell from the Tucker boys.
We close out the album with another recycled CDB song, “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day,” The biggest difference is that dad found his voice and sounds more natural than the previous version and this version is flavored with lots of dad’s fiddle licks.
This would be the CDB’s last release on Kama Sutra Records.
Big things were brewing, and we’ll talk about that next time.
The album was dedicated to “the Nightriders”
“Dedication to the Nightriders
Here’s to four lane interstates and two lane blacktop country roads, and a thousand little towns that always look the same, except on Sunday morning.
Here’s to truck stop breakfasts, late night poker games and early morning hangovers. Ten Four.
Here’s to the road that leads home and the good women waiting on the other end.
Here’s to a Willie Nelson song to help the long night fall away.
And here’s to a very special lady in Mt. Juliet Tennessee. Hazel. I love you.” – Charlie Daniels 1975
And a special lady, she is.
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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