Take One: Jim Capaldi – Short Cut Draw Blood – ‘It Don’t Scare Me’

by | Feb 11, 2021 | 0 comments

The portentous Jamaican adage, ‘Short cut, draw blood’ warns
that taking the easy way out can offer dire consequence. It also says that the
even quickest strike can also cause injury. 

Both of these eventualities carry
substantial thematic weight on Jim Capaldi’s 1975 album of the same
title. Recently, the Jim Capaldi Estate  announced a worldwide digital release of this vital album in Capaldi’s
discography across numerous streaming platforms. This  reassessment of the record has started 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 of and familiarity with a Jamaican proverb. 

The album was Capaldi’s first following the disillusion
of Traffic. He had a number of former and current members of the
band he founded including 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. Featuring the former Muscle Shoals rhythm section of Hood, Hawkins and percussionist Rebop the song’s striding groove moves
impatiently through Capaldi’s verses. 

The song’s construction brings to mind Bob Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’, another melodic proclamation from
1975 that both jams and informs. 

While not always fashionable in
the music industry to be globally or environmentally conscious, these were ideals held close
to Capaldi’s heart. He was a straight shooter and with this cut he hit the
mark.

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 on jagged electric guitar, moans
of Moog, 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 then a sly smile on the chorus. After 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 his lyrics assess a mystery figure who pulls the strings. 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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