Jerry Riopelle

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1978)

- Jerry Riopelle -- vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar


  supporting musicians (1975)

- Byron Berline -- fiddle

- Dave "The Dutchman" -- backing vocals

- Nick DeCarlo -- accordion

- Winton Felder -- bass

- Jimmy Gordon -- drums, percussion

- Joe Greene -- backing vocals

- James Harris -- bass

-- Long-John Harris -- backing vocals

- Clydie King -- backing vocals

- Edgar Lustgarten -- cello

- Murray MacLeod -- backing vocals

- Freddy Pappalardo -- drum, slide guitar

- Lyle Ritz -- bass

- Salt Springs Slim -- backing vocals

- Rich Tilles -- sax, percussion

- Oren Waters -- backing vocals




- The Parade





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Saving Grace

Company: ABC

Catalog:  ABCX-827

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2065

Price: $15.00

Talk about a rock and roll old timer ...  


Riopelle's career reflects a musical career path that simply no longer exists.   He started his professional musical career in the early 1960s working as a "hired gun" which included stints working as a staff writer, studio musician, and an independent record producer.   The man literally had his fingerprints on dozens and dozens of mid-'60s acts including Bonnie and the Treasures (Charlotte O'Hara), Brewer and Shipley, The Hollywood Argyles, Clydie King, April Stevens and Nino Tempo, We Five, etc.  


Through his work for Phil Spector's Philles label, he hooked up with actors Murray MacLeod, and Allen Roberds Riopelle to form the band The Parade who released a string mid-'60s singles on A&M.  


Graced by a wonderful cover featuring a Fritz Scholder painting entitled "Indian Power", 1974, "Saving Grace" came close to being an outright collaboration with former The Parade member Stuart Margolin.  In addition to co-producing a couple of tracks, Margolin wrote, or co-wrote about half the album.  Musically the collection was pretty varied including stabs at blues ('Shoulder To the Wheel'), country ('Buyin', Beggin' and Stealing'), and rock ('Blues On My Table').  That probably didn't sound like a very enthusiastic summation, but this was one of those albums where the sum was more than the parts.  Riopelle was gifted with a tremendous voice - one of those then young white guys who managed to sound like a grizzled veteran of the blues wars.  To my ears his gravelly voice has always reminded me a bit of the late Lowell George, or Delbert McClinton (two singers I love).  Backed by a tight band including cameos from a wide list of studio friends, the album sounded good throughout, but Riopelle was at his best on the more conventional rock numbers - 'Livin' the Life' and 'Blues On My Table'.     


"Saving Grace" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Livin' the Life   (Jerry Riopelle - Stuart Margolin)  - 2:05

Pardon me for thinking I'd mistakenly put on a Redbone album ...  and not just any Redbone album, rather one of their albums with the hits on it.  Powered by some wonderful tribal drumming and that insidiously catchy refrain, this one should have been a massive hit for the man.  (I Believe the female backing singer is Clydie King.)   ABC tapped the song as the leadoff single:

- 1974's 'Livin' the Life' b/w 'Shoulder To the Wheel' (ABC catalog number ABC-12025) rating: **** stars

2.) Why Do I Always Leave Home?   (Jerry Riopelle - Stuart Margolin) - 2:10

Bluesy lament that probably sounded better after a couple of beers.  rating: *** stars

3.) Naomi's Song   (Jerry Riopelle) - 3:59

Likable blues tune with a touch of Cajun flavor added in.  This was another tune with a touch of Lowell George/Little Feat/Delbert McClinton funkiness in it.  One of the album highlights.   Needless factoid - Riopelle's wife is named Naomi.   YouTube has a nice clip of Riopelle and band doing the song at   the May 2013 Songwriters' Showcase IX:    rating; **** stars

4.) Buyin', Beggin' and Stealing   (Jerry Riopelle - Stuart Margolin) - 2:15

Pretty, but largely forgettable country ballad.   rating: ** stars

5.) Shoulder To the Wheel    (Jerry Riopelle - Stuart Margolin)- 3:50

Standard blues number that sounded a bit like Delbert McClinton.   Other than some nice David Plenn slide guitar it was rather forgettable.  The sound and video quality aren't great, but YouTube has a black and white clip of Riopelle performing the song at a New Year's Eve 1975 concert at Phoenix's Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix:   rating: ** stars

6.) Blues On My Table   (Stuart Margolin) - 4:30

Blues for folks who don't like the blues ...  That sounds like a dumb description, but surrounded by one of those slinky blues melodies (great David Plenn slide guitar), this was a great platform for discovering what a great blues rock the man had.  Imagine a prime slice of Little Feat ...   Shame ABC didn't tap this one as a single.    rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Like I Used To Do   (Jerry Riopelle) - 2:30

Very McClinton sounding blues-rocker.  I like McClinton so didn't have a major problem with it rating: *** stars

2.) You and I   (Jerry Riopelle) - 4:55

Normally a laidback, slightly Caribbean-tinged tune like 'You and I' wouldn't have made much of an impression on me, but Riopelle's slinky drawl and some first-rate acoustic guitar made this one an unexpected charmer.  It's a strange comparison, but the guy really did sound a bit like a cross between Leon Russell and Van Morrison.   Great tune that I've found myself unexpectedly humming when I go walking, or biking.  ABC floated the track as a promo single:

- 1974's 'You and I' b/w 'You and I' (ABC catalog number ABC-12042)    rating: **** stars

3.) Doodley Doo   (Jerry Riopelle - Stuart Margolin) - 3:20

Frankly I'm not sure how many folks would be able to take the title and turn it into anything nearly as impressive.   Cute and surprisingly memorable pop-tinged tune.   rating: **** stars

4.) Silly Old Gigolo   (Jerry Riopelle) - 3:05

Kicked along by some tasty bass, 'Silly Old Gigolo' is one of those great rum--and-sunset tunes.  A wonderful tune with one of those drunken chorus lines that you can easily see yourself singing along to.  Yeah, I'll take another Corona please ....

Riopelle's old friend Stuart Margolin recorded the tune for his 1980 album "And The Angel Sings".   rating: **** stars

5.) Fools Together    (Jerry Riopelle)- 3:15

Imagine Leon Russell deciding to record a real rocker ...   The chorus is addictive.   rating: **** stars

6.) Roll with the Feelin'   (Jerry Riopelle) - 2:25

'Roll with the Feelin'' struck me as being a demo that Riopelle simply never got around to finishing (ho many times can you say 'roll with the feeling' and was probably the album's biggest disappointment.   rating: ** stars



ABC/Dunhill didn't have a clue as to how to market the album and it disappeared in an instant.


For anyone interested, Riopelle has a nice website at: 



About half of the songs are eh, though; The stories dad only shares after a sixer.