On September 1, Sly Dog Records, an imprint of the Mack Avenue label, made Kenny Rankin’s first seven albums digitally available online (iTunes, Rhapsody, eMusic, etc.). Physical reissues of those albums on compact disc will be released on November 3. Rankin, a fine tenor vocalist and gifted guitarist who handled a wide variety of pop, standards and original material with unfailing grace and sensitivity, died of lung cancer earlier this year at the age of 69.
In a press release, Kenny’s son, Chris Rankin, said: “I think what my father really tried to do is put a voice to the human experience, in all of its forms. His songs examined those human challenges from every angle with a beautiful voice and a lot of emotional depth. He was willing to share it all with his audience. Love was a predominant theme throughout his work: romantic love, loss of love, and love’s redemption. He was never afraid to express his emotions through his work; he loved playing for the people. … My family is very proud of my father’s musical legacy and we’re very appreciative that his albums are going to be reissued.”
The seven albums are:
Mind-Dusters (1967): Includes covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Fred Neil’s “Dolphin,” and liner notes by Johnny Carson.
Family (1970): Rankin covers a gamut of singer-songwriters here, from Donovan’s “Skip Along Sam” to Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Mountains and Maryann.” He also covers the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Dear Prudence.”
Like a Seed (1972): Rankin begins coming into his own as a songwriter on this album, penning or co-penning – along with his then-wife, Yvonne – each of the platter’s 11 tracks. A reworking of “Peaceful,” which appeared originally on Mind-Dusters, brings Rankin a wider audience.
Inside (1975): Hailed by many as Rankin’s finest, this album includes winning covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Creepin’” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Up From the Skies” mixed in with fine original fare such as “Lost Up In Loving You” and “Inside.”
Silver Morning (1975): Another mix of covers and originals. With wonderful versions of “Blackbird” and “Penny Lane,” Rankin proves himself to be among the foremost of Beatles interpreters.
The Kenny Rankin Album (1976): Arranger Don Costa (Frank Sinatra) brought his talents to bear on this lush collection of standards, contemporary singer-songwriter pop, and original material. Highlights include versions of evergreens “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “When Sunny Gets the Blues” and a cover of Stephen Bishop’s “On and On.”
After the Roses (1980): This was Rankin’s first release on Atlantic and the last album he’d record for nearly a decade. Don Costa and Arif Mardin shared production credits on this record that saw Rankin continue to explore standards.