Poco – Live At Columbia Studios, Hollywood, September 30, 1971 (2010)

FrontCover1.jpgCombining the natural excitement and added vibrancy that a live performance provides, while recording in a studio environment with better acoustics, proves the best of both worlds for a recorded concert. The small invited audience to this label showcase consisted mostly of family, friends, and music company executives from the Columbia/Epic imprints, giving the proceedings a homey, more comfortable vibe. Poco’s live album of predominantly new material, Deliverin’, which came out earlier in the year, was a big seller and the band had just released the studio follow-up, From the Inside, which introduced Paul Cotton into the outfit, replacing Jim Messina. This was Cotton’s first tour with the existing members, and although his contributions on electric guitar and soon-to-be primary songwriter are still on low boil, it’s clear that Poco is headed in a more commercially rock-oriented direction. Not surprisingly, half the 14-song set consists of material from their new album, with four more from Deliverin’, and Furay even diving back to his Buffalo Springfield days to resurrect “A Child’s Claim to Fame” as part of a medley that also includes “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.” It’s a spirited performance with the quintet’s distinctive three- and four-part harmonies — a clear blueprint for what the Eagles would take to the bank just a year later — sounding particularly vibrant. The more intimate atmosphere is evident on a three-song acoustic mini-set where the unplugged songs take on a rootsy flair somewhat at odds with the harder-edged electrified approach the band was leaning towards.

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Rusty Young’s inimitable and inventive pedal steel consistently stands out, especially when he makes his instrument sound like a B-3 organ on a rollicking, soulful version of “Hurry Up,” a tune from the group’s second album that acquires new life in this setting. Cotton’s three contributions include “Bad Weather,” one of his finest compositions that would later be a staple of their early catalog. Furay’s lovely “What If I Should Say I Love You” is another standout, with this version even more soulful and slightly slower than the studio take. These guys could play and sing with a taut professionalism that always seemed a little ragged but was never sloppy. With sparks fueled by the live experience, this long-lost professionally recorded show is a necessary addition to any country-rock-loving listener’s collection. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Paul Cotton (guitar, vocals)
Ritchie Furay (guitar, vocals)
George Grantham (drums)
Timothy B. Schmidt (bass, vocals)
Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar, guitars, banjo, dobro, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. I Guess You Made It (Furay) 4.55
02. A Man Like Me (Furay) 5.41
03. Ol’ Forgiver (Cotton) 4.27
04. Hear That Music (Schmidt) 3.21
05. Hurry Up (Furay) 5.54
06. You Are The One (Furay) 3.04
07. Bad Weather (Cotton) 5.56
08. Medley: Hard Luck / Child’s Claim To Fame / Pickin’ Up The Pieces (Furay/Schmidt) 5.23
09. Hoe Down (Furay/Young) 2.15
10. What A Day (Messina/Furay) 2.25
11. Railroad Days (Cotton) 3.20
12. What If I Should Say I Love You (Furay) 4.16
13. Just For Me And You (Furay) 3.36
14. C’mon (Furay) 5.36

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