My first solo album, as it’s title implies, is a collection of songs written by some of my influences (Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, etc), as well as tunes I’d written which were rooted in those influences. Aided by Penti “Whitey” Glan ,drums and Hugh O’Sullivan, keyboards, both of whom had been members of fine Canadian R&B bands called “The Rogues”, “The Mandela” and “Bush”, as well as Kent Henry and George Biondo from The Wolf. I recorded once again at “American” with Richie Podolor producing and Bill Cooper engineering. The result was one of the best sounding recordings I’ve been involved with. It has a wide, full and warm sound and contains some of my most personal writings. All in all I felt satisfied with this record and I still do.
With the exception of “Sing With The Children”, the rest of the songs were recorded by studio musicians and myself. Mike Utley, keyboards, Russ Kunkel, drums, Danny Kortchmar, guitar and Lee Sklar, bass. With hindsight, I feel the album was perhaps, a little over produced and at times had a pop sound. Nevertheless this is still one of my favorite albums to this day. I’m particularly fond of my version of “Drift Away” as well as “My Sportin’ Life” “Nobody Lives Here Anymore” and “Dance To My Song”. Two other favorites of mine are “Sing With The Children” (double slide guitar work between Kent Henry and myself) and “Easy Evil” which has a great feel and Gloria Jones’ sexy harmony. People still comment on that song to this day.
This was my third solo album and the first one recorded outside California, namely Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which at that time was a hot bed of recording activity. Since most of my musical influences are of southern origin, I looked forward to this experience and I was not disappointed. In addition to working with such fine musicians as Clayton Ivey, keyboards; Roger Clark, drums and Bob Wray, bass, as well as the Muscle Shoals Horns. I had the pleasure of once again playing with Steppenwolf alumni Larry Byrom , lead guitar. After quick rundowns we had tape rolling and in no more than 3 weeks the LP was mixed and done. It has that slinky, funky groove and lazy feel which I admired so much on many of the recordings from Muscle Shoals and Memphis. With a couple of minor exceptions I still enjoy the music on this record and it remains one of my favorites to this day...
1987—Available by special arrangement with MCA Records, this compilation contains 10 of the best selections from John Kay’s 1970s solo albums, “Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes” and “My Sportin’ Life.” It features both his well-known version of “I’m Movin’ On” and his fine take on “Drift Away,” which (just for the record) was recorded before Dobie Gray’s version was released. Other songs: Easy Evil, Walkin’ Blues, Many A Mile, Sing With The Children, My Sportin’ Life, You Win Again, Nobody Lives Here Anymore, Somebody.
In 1976 Morgan Cavett and I produced these recordings, which were shelved and forgotten until the 90’s when they were rediscovered during the move to my new studio in Tennessee. Some of these songs were re-recorded in Muscle Shoals in ’78 on my “All In Good Time” album but with different musicians. What makes “Heritage Tapes” special to me is not only some of the previously unreleased material but also the contributions made by the fine musicians (Lowell George and Bill Payne of Little Feat, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Gordon, The Tower of Power Horns as well as Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton and others) several of whom are no long with us. Their mix of various styles combined with a broad range of songs resulted in this album of diverse musical textures and contrasts. Some of my favorites include “Business is Business,” “Captain of Your Destiny “,” Nothing But” and “Hurricane Maryann” among others.
John Kay, leader of one of rock's most venerable bands, Steppenwolf, has returned to the folk/blues roots of his troubador days with the release of his fourth solo recording "Heretics and Privateers". The musical subtlety and emotional depth of the albums 12 composistions feature provacative lyrics which offer a gritty view of contemporary life, surveying the human toll of institutional callousness with unflinching clarity.
Kay's lyrics aren't the gripes of a chronic malcontect but the deeply felt observations of a first-generation American whose appreciation of his adopted country's promise and potential is balanced by an awareness of it's lapses.
On both the album's title track, which pays tribute to those among us who reject society's proscribed roles in favor of more humane value systems, and the spare, acoustic closing track "Te Back Page" which celebrate those whose everyday acts of kindness demonstate the human rac's capacity for selflessness, Kay's ultimate sense of hope and faith in humanity shines through.