Talk From The Rock Room: Take One: Jim Capaldi – Short Cut Draw Blood - 'It Don't Scare Me'

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Take One: Jim Capaldi – Short Cut Draw Blood - 'It Don't Scare Me'

The portentous Jamaican adage, ‘Short cut, draw blood’ warns that taking the easy way out can offer dire consequence. It also warns that the even quickest strike can also cause injury. Both of these eventualities carry substantial thematic weight with Jim Capaldi’s 1975 album of the same title.  Recently, the Jim Capaldi Estate has announced a worldwide digital release of this vital album in Capaldi’s discography across numerous streaming platforms. The Estate has rolled out this current reassessment of the record with a release of the first single and title track, ‘Short Cut, Draw Blood’.

The title was brought up to Capaldi by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, who was also Bob Marley and the Wailers producer, hence the use and familiarity of a Jamaican proverb. The album was the first following the disillusion of Traffic, though Capaldi had a number of former and current members of the band he founded including but not limited to his songwriting partner Steve Winwood appear on the LP.

The subject of today’s Talk from the Rock Room ‘Take One’ feature is the title track of Capaldi’s 1975 LP and the aforementioned premier digital single of the  album release. With the former ‘Traffic’ and Muscle Shoals rhythm section of Hood, Hawkins and Rebop the song’s striding groove moves impatiently and nervously through Capaldi’s verses. The song’s construction and content brings to mind Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’, another melodic proclamation from 1975 that both jams and informs. Jim hisses out gritty accusatory verses that may have been too much for the early critics. While not always fashionable in the music industry to be environmentally conscious, this was a theme held close to Capaldi’s heart. Capaldi was a straight shooter and with this cut he hit the mark with a bullseye.

The song enters with a picked acoustic lick that signals the introductory verses. Capaldi itemizes the acts being perpetrated on the Earth and its inhabitants through swirling lyrics winding around flashing keyboards and passing sonic washes. Each verse gains momentum with jagged electric guitar, moans of Moog and percussion joining before crashing into the matter fact chorus, ‘I’m telling you that a short cut is gonna draw blood, and you are gonna get you face pushed in the mud’. Capaldi elicits a sneer when navigating the lyrics and a sly smile in the chorus. Following the third verse a guitar solo enters with all of the various song’s elements colliding. Capaldi comes back following the solo and free forms with the stratified guitars, adding well timed shouts and vamps on the chorus until the fadeout.

Similarly to all enduring art, Capaldi’s song has gained relevance in the intervening years. The finger pointing in Capaldi’s lyrics assess a shadowy figure in charge that still remains in a plethora of clandestine places. Not much has changed. Capaldi’s lyrics are honest, and honesty is sometimes too much,’ 

'Well you can build a lot of buildings that you want in this world, till a man can't see a thing. Keep on spraying the crops with your suicide juice, till the birds no longer sing’. These acts were happening when Capaldi composed the song in the mid 1970’s and they continue to this day. Proof that Capaldi was on the right path of environmental consciousness and his venomous voicing and dulcet musicality the perfect combination to distribute his message.

Jim Capaldi’s 1975 record and track Short Cut, Draw Blood deserves a critical reassessment and a new audience. Its messages and musicality are just as important to listener’s ears today as they were in in middle 1970’s. Capaldi’s talents ranged from composing, arranging, singing, and of course drumming and his recordings need not languish is the dusty recesses of a record store. As an addition, please enjoy this live version of 'Short Cut, Draw Blood' and 'Goodbye Love' from the 'Old Gray Whistle Test' November 18, 1975 before you go. Here’s to enjoying Jim Capaldi's music as well as adding a new generation of listeners that I am sure will be hopeful recipients to his message.

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