Flying Burrito Bros (Brothers) – Flying Again (1975)

FrontCover1Flying Again is the fourth studio album by the country rock group The Flying Burrito Brothers, released in 1975.

After Gram Parsons’ death in 1973, posthumous interest in the Burrito Brothers’ music grew. This interest caused the band’s original label, A&M Records, to release the compilation album Close Up the Honky-Tonks. Since Rick Roberts had dissolved the Flying Burrito Brothers after a brief 1973 European tour with no original members, former manager Eddie Tickner started to think about the possibilities of reviving the band.

After Tickner received booking interest from a number of clubs, founding members “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow and Chris Ethridge agreed to re-form the Burritos. They hired former Byrds drummer Gene Parsons, Joel Scott Hill from Canned Heat, and Gib Guilbeau to round out the “refried” Burritos. Tickner then got the new band a deal with Columbia Records, of which Flying Again was their label debut.

Despite having two original members, the sound of this album is markedly different from the albums released by the original incarnation. The best examples of this are on the tracks “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)” and “Hot Burrito #3”. “Dim Lights” is much faster and more rocking than the version recorded by the original lineup that would appear in 1976. While bassist Chris Ethridge had a significant hand in the writing of “Hot Burrito #1” and #2, Part 3 is a jarring departure from the style of the first two songs. The lyrics are written more as a caricature of the first two. “Building Fires” was released as a single. (by wikipedia)

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The last that had been heard of the Flying Burrito Brothers was a 1973 European tour organized by Rick Roberts, replacement for founding member Gram Parsons, with a few hired guns. But with Parsons’s growing posthumous legend, the band’s name retained currency, and former bassist Chris Ethridge and former pedal steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow retained legal rights to that name. They brought in guitarist/fiddle player Floyd “Gib” Gilbeau, guitarist Joel Scott Hill, and former Byrds drummer Gene Parsons, and relaunched the Burritos with this album of competently played country-rock. Words like “travesty” and “insult” have been used to describe it, on the grounds that Ethridge and Kleinow were trading on Parsons’s reputation, but on its own, the album is an adequate, if unremarkable set. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Through many shifting line-ups, the original run of the Flying Burrito Brothers had ended by 1973. However the band name was soon to be resurrected. After the release of some posthumous compilation albums, interest in the band actually grew, so that their original manager Eddie Tickner decided to organise a reunion of sorts. However most of the original members were not interested at the time.
So instead Tickner turned to Gene Parsons. Parsons already had a long history in the country-rock field, most notably being drummer for The Byrds in their latter years. He persuaded original bassist Chris Ethridge to join, along with guitarist Joel Scott Hill, who had played in bands with both of them (and had also been a member of Canned Heat from 1970-72). Pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow soon joined them as well, and the final member was Parson’s old friend and musical partner Gib Guilbeau. The new five-piece went on tour as the Flying Burrito Brothers – having two of the original Burritos allowed them to use the name. Parsons was the drummer, but also contributed guitar and harmonica, and Guilbeau played his signature cajun fiddle as well as rhythm guitar. The result was a diverse lineup in terms of instruments, vocals and songwriting, and a strong live unit.
The appropriately named Flying Again album came out in 1975, with guest musician Spooner Oldham handling keyboards. Now as it was released under the Burrito Brothers name, expectations of course were high, and it has often been unfairly dismissed as being mediocre. The truth is that it is an absolutely fantastic album. The songs, performances and production are all top notch. Alongside great original songs by Parsons and Guilbeau there are covers of George Jones’ “Why Baby Why”, Joe Maphis’ “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”, and a couple of Dan Penn numbers (the band’s 1969 debut had also featured two Penn songs). Hill performed most of the lead vocals admirably, with both Parsons and Guilbeau singing on a few too. The results is a great fusion of rock, country, soul and R&B. (stuckinthepast08.blogspot.com)

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Personnel:
Chris Ethridge (bass)
Gib Guilbeau (vocals, fiddle, guitar)
Joel Scott Hill (vocals, guitar)
“Sneaky” Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar)
Gene Parsons (vocals, drums, guitar, harmonica)
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Spooner Oldham (keyboards)

FBB01Tracklist:
01. Easy To Get On (Brown/Hill) – 3:18
02. Wind And Rain (Parsons/Guilbeau) – 4:28
03. Why Baby Why (Jones/Edwards) – 2:24
04. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music) (Fidler/J.Maphis/R.Maphis) – 2:16
05. You Left the Water Running” (Dan Penn, Oscar Frank, Rick Hall) – 2:23
06. Building Fires (Penn/Christopher/Dickinson) – 4:18
07. Sweet Desert Childhood (Parsons) – 3:44
08. Bon Soir Blues (Guilbeau/Maxwell) – 4:11
09. River Road (Guilbeau) – 2:59
10. Hot Burrito #3 (Ethridge/Guilbeau/Hill/Kleinow/Parsons) – 2:07

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Levon Helm – American Son (1980)

FrontCover1American Son is a studio album by American country rock musician Levon Helm, who is most famous for his work as drummer for the rock group the Band. It was released in October 1980 on MCA Records and was Helm’s third studio album. It has been generally considered Levon Helm’s best solo work until the release of Dirt Farmer in 2007.

Helm played the part of Loretta Lynn’s father in 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter and was asked to record a version of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” for the film’s soundtrack. The session went well, and producer Fred Carter, Jr., decided to cut more tracks. Using a band of veteran Nashville session players, Carter and Helm recorded 20 tracks over two weeks, half of which ended up on American Son. (by wikipedia)

While recording a few songs for the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, in which he played Loretta Lynn’s father, Levon Helm and friends just kept the tape rolling. American Son offers ten songs (the single “Blue Moon of Kentucky” b/w “Working in a Coal Mine” offers two more) from those productive sessions. A band of Nashville veterans replaces the superstar lineup of Helm’s first two albums. The resulting record has a relaxed groove that kicks in with “Watermelon Time in Georgia” and doesn’t let up. The terrific “Hurricane” evokes the Band’s second album, while “Violet Eyes” and “China Girl” are highlighted by engaging harmonies. American Son is considered by many to be Levon’s best solo album. (by J.P. Ollio)

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After much digging through used bins I came across a copy of Levon’s American Son – his third solo album (not released on CD) a few months ago and I have been listening to it regularly since. It really is very good, especially side 2 (side 1 starts strong, but I am less enthusiastic about the last few). So you can have better sense of where this opinion is coming from, you should know that I found both of the first two solo albums from Levon to be pretty ho-hum. Pleasant but no thrills. But this one really is worth hunting down. It never slips below adequate and at times (i.e. “Watermelon time in Georgia” – the opener to side one, and the fantastic three song sequence closing side two “Nashville Wimmen”/a sublime “Blue House of Broken Hearts” and a charming “Sweet Georgia Wine”) it really does have the “base of the backbone thrills” that I once complained Levon’s solo work lacks. (Well, I take it back now.)

The album is much more of a country effort than the first two albums. The production/arrangements by Fred Carter Jr. are much simpler and more effective than the horn-laden Duck Dunn production of Levon Helm. (Carter was the Ronnie Hawkins guitarist whose slot Robbie moved into when Carter went off to Nashville session work.) Carter plays lead guitar, some Nashville session people fill in behind him. (Also Levon in his book says that the Cates came down to pitch in. I think it is one of the Cate brothers singing harmony on “Blue House of Broken Hearts”. Whoever it is, he is fantastic!)

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Among the many things that stand out about this album is the drumming. Levon is really doing very interesting things. (I am not usually prone to notice drumming, so it says something that I noticed here.) I remember reading in a drumming magazine interview (with some Really Famous Drummer – can’t remember who) some time ago which described Levon as a remarkable drummer in part because of a unique syncopation of the bass drum – an “independent right foot thing”. I had no idea what he was talking about, but after listening to American Son, I do. The bass drum is off carrying a beat that has just a heartbeat’s syncopation relative to everything else. Really effective. Normally, I guess, this is less obvious because of three possible things:

Playing with a distinctive bass guitarist like Rick or Duck Dunn masks the distinctive bass drum.
Sometimes – like on the Muddy Waters Woodstock Album – Levon is trying to just power a song forward in a simple way, and so he just leaves aside the fancy tricks.
Maybe these sessions just took place on one of Levon’s best weeks.

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I might add that for all I know, the bullet Levon put in his butt, severing all sorts of nerves and stuff, may have ended his his ability to manage the bass drum with this kind of finesse – so this may be the only place to hear Levon at his drumming peak.

The circumstances of the recording of this album were apparently this: Levon went to the Bradley Barn recording studio in Nashville (where Ronnie Hawkins, with Levon and assorted sessionmen had recorded Ronnie Hawkins Sings the Songs of Hank Williams over twenty years earlier) to record “Blue Moon of Kentucky” for the Coal Miner’s Daughter soundtrack. Things really clicked in the studio, so as Levon put it, they decided to “put some hay in the barn” by recording a bunch of less-known standards. (None of the songs is original, unless you count “Stay With Me” written by producer Carter.) The musical chemistry is infectious: even the weaker songs are redeemed by the lively and subtle musicianship of Levon, Fred Carter, and whoever else is playing. (by James Tappenden – from the Usenet newsgroup alt.music.the-band, December 1995.)

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Personnel:
Beegie Adair (piano)
Kenneth Buttrey (drums)
Jerry Carrigan (drums)
Buddy Emmons (pedal steel-guitar)
Steve Gibson (guitar)
Levon Helm (drums, vocals, harmonica)
Mitch Humphries (organ, background vocals)
Bobby Ogdin (keyboards)
Buster Phillips (drums)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano)
Clifford Robertson (organ)
Billy Sanford (guitar)
Steve Schaffer (bass)
Jerry Shook (guitar, mandolin)
Henry Strzelecki (bass, background vocals)
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background vocals:
Todd Cerney – Buzz Cason

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Tracklist:
01. Watermelon Time In Georgia (Howard) 3.45
02. Dance Me Down Easy (Henley/Burnette) 2.51
03. Violet Eyes (Kimmel) 3.11
04. Stay With Me (Carter) 3.02
05. America’s Farm (Rogers) 3.07
06. Hurricane (Stegall/Harris/Schuyler) 4.01
07. China Girl (New/Silbar) 3.15
08. Nashville Wimmin (Howard) 4.08
09. Blue House Of Broken Hearts (Martin/Cerney) 3.29
10. Sweet Peach Georgia Wine (Reynolds) 3.48

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Mark Lavon “Levon” Helm (May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012)

Emmylou Harris & The Daniel Lanois Band – Live At The Shepherds Bush Empire, London (1995)

FrontCover1.jpgIn 1995, Emmylou Harris released one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the decade, Wrecking Ball, produced by Daniel Lanois, best known for his work with U2, Peter Gabriel and Bob Dylan. An experimental album for Harris, the record included Harris’s rendition of the Neil Young–penned title track (Young himself provided guest vocals on two of the album’s songs), Steve Earle’s “Goodbye”, Julie Miller’s “All My Tears”, Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love”, Anna McGarrigle’s “Goin’ Back to Harlan” and Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl”. U2’s Larry Mullen, Jr, played drums for the project. The album received virtually no country airplay, but it brought Harris to the attention of alternative rock listeners, many of whom had never listened to her music before. (wikipedia)

And to promote his album Emmylou did together with The Daniel Lanois Band this wonderful show in London.

Emmylou Harris contributions to country-rock, the bluegrass revival, folk music, and the Americana movement are widely lauded.

I am always pleased that I got to read a review of ‘Elite Hotel’ her second solo album, back in 1976 when it was first released.

Not only did I love the album, it helped me discover the country rock genre of that time, and set high standards, that helped me avoid the more ‘cheesy’ country artists. She remains a firm favorite of mine. (beehivecandy.com)

Recorded live at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK; November 23, 1995.
Very good BBC Radio 2 Stereo FM.
Captured, Transferred & Artwork by JTT, December 2006

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Personnel:
Brady Blade (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Emmylou Harris (vocals, guitar)
Daryl Johnson (bass, bass pedals, djembe, percussion, background vocals)
Daniel Lanois (guitar, vocals, mando-guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. May This Be Love (Hendrix) 4.44
02. Where Will I Be (Lanois) 4.40
03. Pancho And Lefty (van Zandt) 4.56
04. Orphan Girl (Welch) 3:22
05. Goodbye (Earle) 4.57
06. Goin’ Back To Harlan (McGarrigle) 5.16
07. Prayer in Open D (Harris) 4.28
08. One Of These Days (Montgomery) 3.03
09. Every Grain Of Sand (Dylan) 4.03
10. Sweet Old World (Williams) 4.08
11. Indian Red (Landry) 6.31
12. Makin’ Believe (Work) 4.10
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13. Wrecking Ball (Young) 4.50
14. Deeper Well (Olney/Olney/Lanois/Harris/Harris) 6.55
15. Blackhawk (Olney/Lanois/Harris) 4.54
16. Wheels (Hillman/Parsons) 3.22

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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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Redwing – Dead Or Alive (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGEssentially, Redwing, Glad, and the New Breed are all the same band…sort of. As the band evolved and their styles changed, so did their name.

Actually, the story begins in Sacramento, CA in 1962 when Timothy (B.) Schmit, Ron Floegel, and Tom Phillips played together in a folk trio, appropriately named Tim Tom & Ron. In 1963, as high school sophomores at Encina High, the band added drummer George Hullin and switched to surf music. With this new change in direction and new member, Tim Tom & Ron became The Contenders.

Then the British Invasion hit, and the group jumped on that ship. Surf music was out and Beatlesque-sounding music was their new thing. By now, the quartet of Tim Schmit, Ron Floegel, Tom Phillips, and George Hullin went by the name, the New Breed.

In 1965, the New Breed cut a single, “Green Eyed Woman” b/w “I’m in Love,” which was quite successful as a regional hit in Northern California. The B-Side, “I’m in Love,” was actually a Lennon-McCartney tune that never appeared on a Beatles record. However, the New Breed’s rendition was extremely faithful to the Beatle-sound, almost sounding as though it was a track that could have been pulled right off of A Hard Days Night; production-wise, it was very much in the “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” vein.

The New Breed next recorded an album’s worth of material. Most of the 11 tracks were cover tunes, but there were a few New Breed originals recorded. Due to problems with their label, the record was not released.

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In 1966, under their own label, World United, the band recorded a new single, “Fine With Me” b/w “The Sound of Music.” The band’s music mirrored the progressive changes that were happening in the music world around this time, and their follow-up single “Wand Ad Reader,” was, essentially, a New Breed re-write of “Paperback Writer.”

Around 1968, the band signed on with a new label, Equinox, under producer Terry Melcher, who had the group change their name to Glad. In Los Angeles, Glad recorded one album, Feelin’ Glad. The album, again, is very Beatlesque, but it is a highly produced effort, more so like the post-’65 Beatles. Apparently, the band was unhappy with the album due to the fact that they had very little control over it. Certain parts of the record were overdubbed with strings, horns, and fancy production against the band’s wishes. Furthermore, its been stated that Tim Schmit is the only Glad member that appeared on the LP’s track, “Shape of Things to Come,” and this was apparently a sore spot for the group. Regardless, the album, which is mostly Glad originals, is a solid album filled with great cuts and great singing and harmonies.

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Unfortunately, Feelin’ Glad did not sell particularly well, and in 1969, Tim Schmit, aka, Timothy B. Schmit was offered the position of bassist for Poco . He accepted it and went onto record some of the most under appreciated music ever with the band. He became ConcertPosterthe replacement for Randy Meisner, who, ironically, he would replace again in the Eagles in 1977. With Poco, Tim released 11 albums.

Glad, again, changed their name. This time, they became Redwing. Replacing Tim was Andy Samuels, formerly of Nate Shiner’s Band. Samuels was really another guitarist, and not really a bassist, although he would play some bass on Redwing’s albums and was–according to soon-to-be-bassist Dale Lyberger–quite accomplished. Although it seems that the band never actually found an “official,” long-term bassist, several four-stringers played with the group over the ensuing years–most notably Dale Lyberger, John Myers, and Buddy Harpham.

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Redwing did well locally, but, unfortunately, never made it nationally. Under the Fantasy label, they released 5 records–one each year starting in 1971: Redwing, What this Country Needs…, Take Me Home, Dead or Alive, and Beyond the Sun and Stars. Much like with the New Breed and Glad, each record reflected the band’s style evolving and incorporated new ideas. (More information is available on each record on the records page.)

By the time of the release of Beyond the Sun andStars, the band’s final record, the spark that originally defined the band had diminished. The end was not too far away, and the group disbanded not too long aftewards.

Although the 5 Redwing LPs remain unreleased on CD and long out of print, those who have had or have been able to find vinyl copies recognize that the group left behind some fine music. The members of the New Breed (including Timothy B. Schmit) still occasionally see each other, and have reunited for a few jams over the years: usually at high school reunions. After all, Encina High School was the place where it all started so many years back. (by desktop21.com/redwing)

And this is their 4th album …

… and if you like the sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Eagles, The Marshall Tucker Band or The Band …. then is this album for you.

And songs like “Rainbow Mountain”, “I’m Holding On”, “Two Brothers (Dead Or Alive)”. “Early Mornin’ Sunrise” or “Shine On Me” … stands the test of time ! Listen and enjoy !

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Personnel:
Ron Floegel (guitar)
George Hullin (drums, percussion, fiddle)
Tom Phillips (guitar, slide-guitar, steel-guitar, dobro, banjo, harmonica, saxophone, vocals)
Andrew Samuels (guitar, bass, vocals)
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David Fraser (piano on 04., 08. + 10.)
Tiny Moore (fiddle, mandolin on 06. + 09.)
Kenneth Nash (percussion on 01., 05., 06. + 08.)
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background vocals:
Debbie Moore – George Hullin

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Tracklist:
01. I’m Holding On (Phillips) 3.58
02. You’ve Got It (Phillips) 2.47
03. Two Brothers (Dead Or Alive) (Phillips) 3.26
04. The Rhythm King (Floegel) 2.01
05. Early Mornin’ Sunrise (Phillips) 4.49
06. Foxfire (Phillips) 2.19
07. Shine On Me (Phillips) 3.12
08. Angel Eyes (Floegel) 3.01
09. Give Me A Song (Phillips) 2.59
10. Rainbow Mountain (Floegel) 3.38

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips today