Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits, released in late 1977, had quickly become her best-selling album and introduced millions of new fans to her music. In the fall of 1977 she would release a follow-up studio album which would top both the country and pop charts in The United States and become her most successful non-compilation release.
Simple Dreams effectively closed out another period of her career as she would take her sound more in a rock direction during the course of her next three releases. It continued the practice of her and producer Peter Asher assembling an eclectic group of cover songs which were perfect for her voice and interpretive skills.
She reached back into rock history for two different type songs which both became top five hits. Very few vocalists have the confidence or skill to cover a Roy Orbison classic but she proved more than up to the task with a powerful, crystal-clear rendition of “Blue Bayou,” which garnered a Grammy nomination for Record Of The Year. And in a wonderful fusion of rock and pop flowing smoothly, “It’s So Easy” marked her second Buddy Holly tune, following “That’ll Be The Day.”
She turned to Warren Zevon for two songs. She summoned one of the better performances of her career on the complicated and sophisticated “Carmelita” while turning “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” into a catchy, country/pop romp.
The two tracks which I have returned to over and over again through the years are the traditional songs, “I Will Never Marry,” and “Old Paint.” Sometimes simple is best and so it was her for Linda Ronstadt.
Finally you cannot review this album without mentioning “Tumbling Dice.” The Rolling Stones may seem like a stretch for a female pop and country artist but she moved the song over into her comfort zone.
Simple Dreams is a mature and graceful album which finds Linda Ronstadt at the top of her form. It remains a fine listen over three decades after its release.