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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Praise of "Secular Praise"--and an Alabama Musical Treasure

Alabama has a rich cultural heritage, and one of our treasures--the Blind Boys of Alabama--will be inducted into the state Music Hall of Fame on March 25.

That honor happens to coincide with a duet the Blind Boys recently recorded with the bass player for one of our favorite bands, the Eagles.

Timothy B. Schmit is the least known member of the Eagles. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh all have enjoyed major success as solo artists, while Schmit's individual efforts have tended to fly under the radar.

Schmit is best known for singing the high-harmony parts that give the Eagles their distinctive sound--and for singing lead on ballads such as "I Can't Tell You Why," "Love Will Keep Us Alive," and "I Don't Want to Hear Any More."

Back in October, Schmit released a solo album called Expando, and to our untrained ears, it stands up well with any of the solo projects produced by members of the Eagles. (The title of the album, by the way, comes from the brand of mobile home Schmit's family lived in when he was growing up.)

Among the many highlights of Expando is a gospel-tinged number called "Secular Praise," featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama on backing vocals. It might be the finest solo piece Schmit has ever done and would have made an outstanding addition to the Eagles most recent mega-selling CD, Long Road Out of Eden.

You can listen to "Secular Praise" here. And you can listen to all of Expando here. It includes lots of good stuff.

Among the standouts are "One More Mile," featuring bluesy guitar from Keb Mo; "Parachute," featuring backing vocals from Graham Nash; and "Downtime," featuring backing vocals from Dwight Yoakam and Kid Rock.

"Friday Night" would fit on most any Eagles album, while "White Boy from Sacramento" offers a funky Tim Schmit as you've never heard him before.

Here is a video of Schmit working with the Blind Boys of Alabama on "Secular Praise."

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