If there is one image of Linda Ronstadt that is indelibly etched in my mind it is the cover shot of Living In The USA which pictures her roller skating in shorts.
1978 found Linda Ronstadt moving in a more rock direction. Her fan base followed along as the album would top the Billboard Magazine pop charts and quickly earn a platinum record award.
She used her basic concert band in the studio and was able to achieve a tight sound. Kenny Edwards on bass, guitarist Waddy Wachtel, and drummer Russell Kunkel all provided strong support.
The album blasts off with a rousing version of Chuck Berry’s “Back In The U.S.A.” Guitar, piano, and vocal all add up to Linda Ronstadt at her rocking best. If you ever want to hear an excellent live version of the song just check out the Keith Richards and Chuck Berry concert album Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!
She returned to Motown for the albums biggest hit. A smooth, pop version of the Smokey Robinson classic “Ooh Baby Baby” just flows smoothly by the senses. It would reach number seven on The American singles charts in the fall of 1978. Of particular note is the sax solo by David Sanborn.
She delivers a stripped down rendition of Elvis’ “Love Me Tender.” The clarity and tone of her voice is superb. A number of radio stations would combine her voice and that of Elvis into a duet.
There were several other rock type gems. She continued her trend of recording material by Warren Zevon with “Mohammed’s Radio.” She takes this wonderfully structured song and turns it into a pop/rock masterpiece. “Just One Look” was a huge rhythm and blues hit for Doris Troy in 1963. She moves it over into her pop zone with a smooth vocal and exact phrasing. Elvis Costello’s “Alison” is a perfect song which receives a perfect vocal. Finally “White Rhythm & Blues” by old buddy J.D. Souther is another of his songs she makes her own.
Living In The USA may not be her overall strongest album but it stands the test of time well and remains one of her most memorable. In the final analysis it is enjoyable, catchy and makes the listener feel good which is not a bad legacy.