Stealin’ Home is an album that I bought at the time of its release. Now 36 years later, it has been reissued with a live, nine song concert from 1978 as bonus tracks.
Iain, Or Ian as he was called during this part of his life, has had a long and varied career. He was a member of Fairport Convention during the late 1960’s and then fronted his own band, Matthews Southern Comfort, which had a significant hit with the Joni Mitchell composition, “Woodstock.” During the last couple of decades, he has explored the jazz idiom.
When he recorded Stealin’ Home he was looking for commercial success and it proved to be his most successful album release in the United States, in part due to the hit single “Shake It.” It is a combination of originals and covers and explores folk, pop, and some rhythm & blues. Through it all he produces catchy melodies to make a smooth sound that was very radio friendly back in the late 1970s.
“Shake It” is a track that will transport you back in time. It may sound a bit dated today but it is a wonderful nostalgic journey down memory lane. “Give Me An Inch” is a pure pop concoction that is almost as good.
“Yank and Mary (Smile)” is an updated Fairport Convention sound, while “Let There Be Blues” has a wonderful soulful vocal.
The bonus tracks are a nine-song live concert recorded at Texas A&M University during November of 1978. Previously unreleased in the United States, it draws on songs from different periods of his career up until that point in time. His laid back versions of “Shake It,” “Stealin’ Home,” and “Don’t Hang Up Your Dancing Shoes” present his voice and stage presence well.
Ian Matthews career has been a series of stops, starts, and changes but none so entertaining as his pop period of which Stealin’ Home is his finest example.