Thursday, May 30, 2013

Forgotten Music Thursday: Craig Doerge - Craig Doerge (1973)

Craig Doerge (rhymes with "Fergie") made a huge name for himself as a session keyboard player in the 70s for many of Southern California's heaviest hitters. He worked with Crosby, Stills, and Nash on their albums and he was a mainstay of Jackson Browne's band for most of the decade. He also contributed regularly to the studio work of both James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt as well as playing on sessions for Willie Nelson, Peter Cetera, and a host of others.  Later he went on to form the all-star band known as The Section with Leland Sklar, Danny Kortchmar, and Russ Kunkel.

Doerge's resume was already impressive when he hooked up with lyricist/singer Judy Henske who, at the time, had a promising music career that never lived up to early expectations.   She wrote the lyrics for all ten tracks on Doerge's 1973 eponymously titled LP.

Unfortunately, Doerge's one and only solo album did nothing in the marketplace partially because it got buried under a whole boatload of internal problems at his label, Sony/Columbia. Consequently, the album was only available in Japan for the next thirty years. Today it can be purchased at collectors prices at Amazon or you can buy it on CD through Doerge's website.

Henske is a fine lyricist who came up with imaginative song titles such as "Dogs Are The Only Real Christians."

The album's first cut, "Yellow Beach Umbrella" impressed the right people and was eventually covered by Three Dog Night and Bette Midler.

Doerge's voice isn't powerful but it's strong enough to not to wear out its welcome. Many of his vocals were double tracked and that helped hide any flaws.

Doerge had lots of help from many of the session mates he played with regularly and also from a couple of famous jazz men: bassist Ray Brown (Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker) and Harry "Sweets" Edison whose virtuoso trumpet playing made him a key member of Count Basie's outfit. Their considerable chops elevated the last song, the Dixieland influenced "Raggedy Ann," into something more than routine singer-songwriter fare.

This disc isn't quite up to the level of the music made by the all-stars Doerge has supported over the years but if you're loooking for something pleasant and a little different you may want to give it a listen.

A year after this album was made Doerge and Henske tied the knot. He has now retired from the road to jump-start his wife's career after she took a twenty-five year hiatus from the business. He also started his own record company.


  1. Wait...Sony didn't have any hand in CBS Records in '73...was this an '83 release?

    Henske's name perked my metaphorical ears up!

    1. I got the information about Sony-Columbia from Amazon's Craig Doerge page.

    2. I'll buy it. Sony bought 'em in '88. I suspect CBS neglected the album for the first 15 years on their own...and Sony was very tentative about a lot of "catalog" releases on CD...

  2. Yeah, I imagine CBS had enough problems with the record label on their own in '73, compared with how their other divisions were doing...