I'm A Gerry Raffety fan,I bought the vinyls of "City To City", "Night Owl" and "Snake And Ladders" back when they came out. Later I replaced them with CD's. God I'm glad I did it back then. Prices for the latter two are skyhigh nowadays. Why not remasters and new editions? There all Gems, not rough but nice, and shinny. "Snakes and Ladders" was one of my favourite albums along with "Night Owl", While the latter sold really well "Snakes" didn't. And I can't figure out why. The Album starts with the "Royal Mile", acoustic guitar and flute welcome you, but it's typical Rafferty with an 'out of tune' Piano on the background. It set's the mood for the rest of the album while Gerry is mesmerizing throug his earlier years in "I Was A Boy Scout", here some great horns on the background. Then Gerry mocks about Hollywood and the US in "Welcome To Hollywood", well you'll get a lot of 'friends' when you're succesfull. In "Waisting Away" Gerry rocks in his own style with a flanged guitar throughout the song and a nice solo towards the end. "Look At The Moon" I think, is a real gem with just piano, strings and a little synths on the side and of course Gerrys voice, a short interlude to "Bring It All Home". In this bluessong everyone fires away right to the end, all excelling on their instuments, great! "Garden Of England" with it's long spoken outro is reminishing about the England which is no more. In "Johnny's Song", Gerry rock's again. "Didn't I?" is a remake of the one on "Can I Have My Money Back?", I liked it back then and it's still great. Now we get to "Syncopatin Sandy" and "Cafe Le Cabotin", my two favourite songs of the album, "Sandy" about a man who keeps drinking with interludes on honkey tonk piano and clarinet & sax, I love it. "Cafe" is in a easier mood with a great outro with accordion and night sounds. "Don't Close The Door" is another blues with slide guitar, which raps up a great album and set's you in the right mood, ..... to give it another spin again.
I bought this gem when it came out in 1980 and is his best work. It is a shame that this album has been forgotten for it is his most diversified collection and shows he can write more than just mid paced ballads. Right from the first single "The Royal Mile" you realise that this is something special. Highlights include "Welcome to Hollywood", his tale of his experience with hangers-on willing to exploit his new found in success in America and "Garden of England" laments the passing of the British empire. Just buy it, you won't be sorry!!!!!
I managed to pick up Snakes and Ladders (Gerry's 4th solo album) about 20 years ago on cd and still revisit it from time to time. All the ingredients should be there for another classic album (solid songwriting, superb musicians and fine production) but for me it doesn't quite scale the heights of Can I Have My Money Back?, City To City and Night Owl.
Don't get me wrong there are some strong moments on this album, the mellow, sweet opener The Royal Mile, Bring It All Home, the thoughtful Garden Of England, an excellent reworking of a Stealers Wheel track called Johnny's Song and the final number Don't Close The Door which features some superb slide work.
It's probably just me but i feel the rest of the album sounds a bit tired to my ears, not terrible songs but as if Gerry was just going through the motions a bit (dare i say!)
Don't get too confused by my review, ha ha, it's still an album worth investing in (if you can get it at a reasonable price) as Rafferty never did a sub-standard album imo.
I was going to award the album 3 out of 5 but i feel it's good overall, just not brilliant.
Snakes And Ladders is the third of Gerry Rafferty's trio of great post Stealers Wheel albums and, while it was not as commercially successful as City To City and Night Owl, some consider it his best. I think it is excellent - Rafferty was a craftsman who never released a less than excellent album - but it does show signs of him running low on top tunes and, in my view, there are a couple of unexceptional fillers here with Wastin' Away, Didn't I?, Johnny's Song and I Was a Boy Scout. However, the remainder is classic Rafferty with great tracks including the Royal Mile, Welcome to Hollywood, Look At The Moon, Bring It All Home, Syncopatin' Sandy, Don't Close The Door, and The Garden of England complete with part of a speech by Tory politician at the time Willie Whitelaw interspersed with the melody. If you like Rafferty's work this is one you have to have.
A true genius..Lyrics perfect, tone perfect, music perfect, a nostalgic trip to another era. A must for fans and anyone who only knows the popular stuff. Try the rest and enjoy, you won't be disappointed. They don't make em like this anymore.. Syncopating Sammy..enough said!
I first bought this album on vinyl back in 1980. I have always thought that the album wasn't given the accolades it so surely deserved. Anyway here it is in digital format and CD for us all to enjoy and pay our respect to the much missed Gerry Rafferty.