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Old 08-19-2009, 05:25 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by savannah View Post
you should buy us al joshua trees,...that might spur more interaction
Maybe As long as this thread's getting plenty of views though, I'm satisfied.

Anyhoo...

The Flying Burrito Brothers
The Gilded Palace Of Sin
1969, A&M Records

1. Christine's Tune [Hillman/Parsons]
2. Sin City [Hillman/Parsons]
3. Do Right Woman [Moman/Penn]
4. Dark End Of The Street [Moman/Penn]
5. My Uncle [Hillman/Parsons]
6. Wheels [Hillman/Parsons]
7. Juanita [Hillman/Parsons]
8. Hot Burrito #1 [Ethridge/Parsons]
9. Hot Burrito #2 [Ethridge/Parsons]
10. Do You Know How It Feels [Parsons/Goldberg]
11. Hippie Boy [Hillman/Parsons]


Upon Sweetheart Of the Rodeo's completion, the events which saw the birth of one of the early and more influential country rock groups took place. To cut a long story short, a Byrds album which had been born out of the creative friction between Roger McGuinn's desire to keep strolling down Notorious Byrd Brothers Avenue and bassist Chris Hillman and new boy Gram Parsons' idea to record a country rock record, did indeed cause the classic lineup of the Byrds to split up for good. Parsons left the band on the eve of their South African tour and, soon after, he was joined by Hillman, who'd agree to play guitar and sing the occasional vocal track in a new, forward-thinking country band - the Flying Burrito Brothers. While McGuinn and the Byrds went into a sharp and rapid decline, Hillman and Parsons formed quite the songwriting partnership, swelling the ranks with pedal steel guitarist 'Sneaky' Pete Kleinow and the multi-talented Chris Ethridge filling out bass and piano duties. With the nucleus of the band now in place, the Flying Burrito Brothers took to the studio armed with a deal with A&M, several session drummers and some very promising material.

Promise that is, indeed, delivered with the kind of gusto which made Sweetheart Of the Rodeo the timeless classic that it is which results in, basically, another timeless country classic. The difference between the Gilded Palace Of Sin and the aforementioned Byrds album though is, most obviously, that nine of these eleven songs are original compositions, like the superb, upbeat opener Christine's Tune - one which not only revels in the beat group-type harmonies that make Sweetheart Of the Rodeo as forward-thinking as it was, but also with a psychedelic twist. Throughout this album, pedal steel guitarist Pete Kleinow either uses a fuzzbox with his weapon of choice or plays it through a rotating Hammond Leslie amp, giving this song a kind of psychedelic country feel about it. It takes the experiment that was Sweetheart Of the Rodeo a step further. The following Sin City lacks such an affect but still serves as a very good slow-burner to take the album onwards.

From there, as per Parsons' idea of 'cosmic American music', we get two covers of old R'n'B standards, with both Do Right Woman and Dark End Of the Street being two top-notch examples of that idea not only coming to fruition but actually sounding damn good as well. The latter in particular, with Parsons' lead vocal and Hillman's harmony, really presents a fascinating show of R'n'B being wired up to a country motor and doing a world of good for itself.

Next up is another trio of Hillman/Parsons co-writes, starting with the bouncy, bluegrass-flavoured My Uncle as it rounds off side A, before moving on to the unrelentingly top-drawer level of quality which is side B. Wheels gives Kleinow's concept of a psychedelic pedal steel guitar another chance to shine here, piercing through a truly beautiful, harmony-heavy and achingly emotional slow-burner, which sees Parsons' strength for the despairing country ballad as a vocalist really coming into its own. Juanita, propelled as it is by Kleinow's this time unadorned pedal steel, Hillman's acoustic strumming and some more absolutely gorgeous vocal harmonies between him and his co-writer, is another wonderful ballad that it's so easy to just lose yourself in.

It's hard to imagine the album getting any better but, oddly enough, it does. Hot Burrito #1 and Hot Burrito #2 were both hastily-written by Parsons and Ethridge, which is quite something given that they're two of my favourite songs of all time, let alone country songs. A couple of Parsons' finest vocal performances without a doubt - you can almost hear him crying as he sings 'I'm your toy, I'm your old boy, but I don't want no-one but you to love me', augmented by Kleinow's psychedelic-leaning contributions make for a couple of heart-wrenchingly beautiful classics.

Do You Know How It Feels, another Parsons/Goldberg composition, leans much more towards the traditional and as such isn't too far removed from something the International Submarine Band would've recorded, but doesn't bring the level of quality down one little bit. The curtain call, Hippie Boy, is simply brilliant. With Parsons' wonderful lyric being spoken over a backing track dominated by his own work on the organ, it's a bit of a sore thumb on the tracklisting but nevertheless is a wonderful way to put the lid on the record.

A record which, since getting hold of it myself, has become my joint-favourite that Parsons have ever been involved with alongside Sweetheart Of the Rodeo. In some ways, it's probably stands as more of an example of how much everyone who claims to hate country is missing out on than the Byrds album. For all the colours added by the psychedelic touches of the organ and fuzzy pedal steel, the way it takes the experiment that Parsons and Hillman kicked off while they were in the Byrds, the mutual understanding of a rich musical tradition that they then take full advantage of to become a truly great songwriting partnership and, of course, the Hot Burrito songs, make for an absolute classic and another album I'd recommend to absolutely anyone. So then...

10/10




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Old 08-29-2009, 07:30 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Have to pick this one up. Nice review!
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:15 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Have to pick this one up. Nice review!
Thanks man If you need help finding it, just drop me a line. That goes for anyone else who wants to give it a go too.

The Flying Burrito Brothers
Burrito Deluxe
1970, A&M Records

1. Lazy Days [Parsons]
2. Image Of Me [Howard/Kemp]
3. High Fashion Queen [Hillman/Parsons]
4. If You Gotta Go, Go Now [Dylan]
5. Man In the Fog [Leadon/Parsons]
6. Farther Along [Baxter/Stevens]
7. Older Guys [Hillman/Leadon/Parsons]
8. Cody, Cody [Hillman/Leadon/Parsons]
9. God's Own Singer [Leadon]
10. Down In the Churchyard [Hillman/Parsons]
11. Wild Horses [Jagger/Richards]


Although the Flying Burrito Brothers, with the help of their debut, the Gilded Palace Of Sin, had gained a cult following which included people like the Rolling Stones (who were no doubt taking notes for their own albums, Let It Bleed and the soon-to-be-recorded Sticky Fingers) and a certain Bob Dylan, the Brothers, like the International Submarine Band and the Byrds before them, had failed to find commercial success with their radical country rock package. It was that sense of frustration which saw Chris Etheridge hand his bass duties over to Hillman and leave the band. Guitarist, dobro player and occasional vocalist Bernie Leadon filled in Hillman's original place. After Michael Clarke, another ex-Byrd, became the band's full-time drummer, the Brothers were ready to take to the studio again.

The results, this time, were ones which lacked the kind of fire in its belly that the Gilded Palace Of Sin had, and you can hear so in the opener Lazy Days. Whereas Christine's Tune kicked its own album with real style and panache, Lazy Days (an outtake from the Sweetheart Of the Rodeo sessions) doesn't really do much to stand out with an identity of its own. It's all a bit flat and, dare I say it, not really that good.

Image Of Me, with its bluegrass-styled fiddle and slow-rolling tempo, is a vast improvement with its wonderful instrumental bridge and sweet harmonies. The Hillman/Parsons original, High Fashion Queen, is one of the highlights and a prime example of exactly what country rock is, what with how Hillman clearly draws on his experience with the Byrds to write a pulsating, rock 'n' roll bass rhythm as Pete Kleinow adds colourful swathes of his steel guitar to a livelier and stripped-down number. The following rendition of Bob Dylans If You Gotta, Go Now, is a similar kind of song - a juicy, up-tempo slice of archetypal country rock. It's passable, though not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, a bit like Man In the Fog, with its bubbly bluegrass kind of vibe. Coming up next, Farther Along is, for me, the best moment on the album, as Parsons sings the old standard with a beautiful injection of melody which gives this slower cut that much more edge than most of the songs that preceded it. What follows is another good enough song, although to be honest it's more interesting than good if that makes any sense, Older Guys being an intriguing show of the Flying Burrito Brothers trying to write and play a song like the Rolling Stones (who they'd befriended that year), what with the dirty, confident blues-rock swagger the whole thing has about it. As I said, it's decent enough but, like most of this album, just not brilliant.

Cody Cody (another three-way songwriting credit between Hillman, Leadon and Parsons) slows things down again. Once more, there's nothing wrong with the playing or the songwriting, but it just lacks the fire and panache of the album before it. It's something that can be said of the solo Leadon cut, God's Own Singer - while it's a nice enough little song, it doesn't push the boundaries of country music and therefore not only comes across as a tad uninteresting, but also isn't exactly something I'd give a non-country fan to listen to for themselves. Down In the Churchyard is a more upbeat, lively country rocker and is an improvement, but overall the lack of the kind of edge that Parsons' sorrowful vocal or Kleinow's psychedelic breed of steel guitar (which for some reason isn't used anywhere on this album) does drag the overall quality down.

Recorded before the Rolling Stones' own version (with Mick Jagger's permission of course), Wild Horses does give a so-so album a gorgeous send-off. While it doesn't quite touch the same level of greatness that the Stones' version on Sticky Fingers does (or that bloody beautiful Keith Richards solo), it still stands as easily one of the best moments on Burrito Deluxe.

So, while there's not a lot wrong with Burrito Deluxe here, it is simply nowhere near as good as the two albums Parsons had previously been involved with. It could be down to the departure of Chris Etheridge from the lineup (who, lest we forget, was partly responsible for the Hot Burrito songs), but you could also say that the lack of boundary-pushing, the flat sound of the production and the fact that the album focused on three writers and singers instead of two (which leads to a lot less Parsons to be heard here), all drag this album down a bit. Overall, it's nowhere near bad, but not something I'd go out of my way to recommend to anyone (unlike the Gilded Palace Of Sin and Sweetheart Of the Rodeo before it). To put it simply though, Chris Hillman and Bernie Leadon, two youngish country rockers were catering for their own ambitions, were drowning out Parsons' vision of cosmic American music which had done so much for both those albums. It was time for him to move on.

6/10




As for what happened next, Gram Parsons left the band soon after Burrito Deluxe's release to eventually start a solo career due, presumably, to the fact that he had less of a say in all things Burrito since Bernie Leadon's hiring. The remaining Brothers released one more, self-titled album the following year before splitting up. In 1975, due partly to the growing interest in Parsons and his work as a Flying Burrito Brother following his death, Chris Etheridge and Pete Kleinow re-formed the group as the sole original members. Chris Hillman had joined Stephen Stills' band, Manassas, rejoined the classic Byrds lineup for a swansong album and was performing with the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band by the time this happened, and so wasn't available for the reunion. There'd be plenty of hit singles and albums on the way for the newer incarnation of the Flying Burrito Brothers, though nothing that I'd call truly vital to any musical library like the Gilded Palace Of Sin.

So, I'll get round to going on about Gram's solo albums whenever I feel like it then...
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:31 PM   #24 (permalink)
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That is a really great review of Sweeheart Of The Rodeo and forced me into picking it up earlier on today, why did I never have this before?

It is a really amazing album all-round and has got me in search of a couple other of the albums in this thread.

Great reviews. Cheers.
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:37 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by zeppy111 View Post
That is a really great review of Sweeheart Of The Rodeo and forced me into picking it up earlier on today, why did I never have this before?

It is a really amazing album all-round and has got me in search of a couple other of the albums in this thread.

Great reviews. Cheers.
Funnily enough, that's exactly what I thought of it when finished listening to it end-to-end for the first of many, many times. It was the first classic country album I ever bought after all (all I'd owned of the genre to that point was Almost Blue - Elvis Costello's album of traditional C&W covers). The Gilded Palace Of Sin has that same kind of affect, even though it does take slightly longer to really hit you as the classic I think it is. I'd say that it's definitely the other one you should prioritise, along with one of Gram's solo albums which I should get to soon enough.
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Old 09-05-2009, 08:48 PM   #26 (permalink)
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'Gilded Palace' is fucking magnificent, that fuzzed-up pedal steel puts it more on the Buffalo Springfield side of country rock, which is a bit more psych-y as you said and uber cool really. But it's really not as poppy as those guys, proper country. Apparently it all sounds like the same redneck racket to most people anyway, how mistaken they are

Great thread Alex, just signed in to ramble and found it.
Gram was gorgeous too, even if he does look a bit like Noel Fielding in the 'Christine's Song' video... that's got to be one of the finest singles of a very fine year incidentally, I bet that Christine skank was sorry she messed with Chris 'jewfro' Hillman and/or Parsons!

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Old 09-06-2009, 05:23 PM   #27 (permalink)
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And you're saying Noel Fielding isn't gorgeous?

Good that you're digging some Gilded Palace - those videos I posted barely touch on the brilliance of that album, and this is coming from someone who thinks Three Lions is the anthem of the 90s, so it must be that good
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:36 PM   #28 (permalink)
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1970-72 - The Void Years



As the rather snappy heading may suggest, for a while after leaving the Flying Burrito Brothers, there wasn't an awful lot going for Parsons. It might have seemed that way at first when he was almost immediately snapped up onto a solo contract with A&M and, teaming up with producer Terry Melcher (having worked with the Byrds and the Beach Boys over the years), went about attempting his first solo album. After the unproductively drug-addled sessions, Parsons lost interest and the album was shelved. As you might be able to tell from the above picture, he joined the Rolling Stones on tour in 1971 primarily to hang out and get zonked with his friend Keith Richards, but also in the hope that they might record an album together. It was while he was shacked up with Richards during the Exile On Main Street sessions in France that his dependency on alcohol, cocaine and heroin started to spin out of control. Parsons' behaviour became increasingly unpredictable and he was soon asked to leave.

It was after his return to the US of A that he married, successfully ditched his heroin habit and went about getting his career back on track. After a one-off reunion gig with the Flying Burrito Brothers that year, Chris Hillman and Parsons went to Washington DC to see a then small-time singer-songwriter by the name of Emmylou Harris. After thinking about inviting Harris to join the Burrito Brothers, Hillman recommended her to Parsons as a potential creative partner. The friendship, working relationship and albums that followed would turn out to be very important in country music history...
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:41 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Gram Parsons
GP
1973, Reprise Records

1. Still Feeling Blue [Parsons]
2. We'll Sweep Out the Ashes In the Morning [Allsup]
3. A Song For You [Parsons]
4. Streets Of Baltimore [Glaser/Howard]
5. She [Parsons/Ethridge]
6. That's All It Took [Edwards/Grier/Jones]
7. The New Soft Shoe [Parsons]
8. Kiss the Children [Parsons]
9. Cry One More Time [Wolf/Justman]
10. How Much I've Lied [Parsons/Rifkin]
11. Big Mouth Blues [Parsons]


Given the amount of weight Parsons had put on through years of alcohol abuse and fast food, it must have caused an eyebrow-raising or two when Reprise Records asked him to sign on the dotted line. By this time he'd been creatively revitalised by his acquaintance with Emmylou Harris, had written a few new songs and was seeking to have another crack at kicking off his solo career after his aborted attempt to do so two years earlier. And so it was that in the autumn of 1972 that the prospect of a predominantly-original Gram Parsons solo album became a reality. With the help of an army of session musicians (which included Miss Harris as harmony vocalist) that Parsons' talent as a solo singer-songwriter truly started to blossom into the form of a very good debut album indeed.

It's one that gets off to a hell of a start with a vibrant, upbeat and strangely uplifting tune considering it's called Still Feeling Blue. Despite being a pure country (though slightly bluegrass-tinged) song of lament of a lost lover, it's a superb Byron Berline fiddle track and the well-placed swathes of pedal steel which really help this one to rise above mediocrity and kick off the album ahead with style and panache.

Though it may sound like it judging from the opening track, the proposition of GP was far from the Gilded Palace Of Sin 2. The new dimension which basically provides the agenda for a lot of Parsons' solo work is stuck in a nutshell by the beautiful cover of Joyce Allsup's We'll Sweep Out the Ashes In the Morning, featuring harmonies and a entire verse sung by Emmylou Harris' trademark, honey-like voice. It goes to show not only what a fantastic singing duo Parsons and Harris made, but also shows off the former's knack for the country ballad. Basically, this is one of the album highlights.

The following sequence of songs takes GP in a much slower direction, which is started by the very traditional-sounding and slow-burning A Song For You - another solo composition from Parsons and another to feature Harris' vocal harmonies. Probably a weaker point on the album, but not bad at all. Streets Of Baltimore is the same kind of kettle of fish, but one with the added spices of a very Sticky Fingers-esque steel guitar solo, some more superb work on the fiddle from Berline and more marvellous vocals. Another album highlight then. Following it up, She, a song Parsons co-wrote with his former Burrito Brother Chris Ethridge, is another sublime, delicate little slow-burner with the kind of vocal performance you could probably use to put out fires and a more complex kind of time signature than a lot of the songs Parsons had written.

Some razor-sharp, piercing licks of pedal steel open side B with the rendition of George Jones' That's All It Took - a slightly livelier cut which again features the Harris/Parsons vocal team, along with some superb fiddle and pedal steel solos. Following from that are a couple more solo originals, starting with the deeply-affecting, beautiful, yarn-spinning, harmony-laden the New Soft Shoe and continuing with the mid-tempo, pure country vibes of Kiss the Children.

Now that I mention 'pure country vibes', seeing as this is a solo debut and all, for the most part GP tends to lack the forward-thinking sense of adventure that dominated Sweetheart Of the Rodeo and the Gilded Palace Of Sin. The big exception is the cover of Cry One More Time that comes next, its repetitive piano motif and Hal Battiste's rolling baritone sax leaving 'cosmic American music's fingerprints all over this neat little cut.

From there, How Much I Lied, a co-write with producer David Rifkin (which, incidentally, Elvis Costello sang a brilliant version of some eight years later), veers into slightly more traditional territory. That said, this superb, fiddle-propelled, slower cut is still one of Parsons' absolute finest and stands as another testament to the guy's strength for miserable-yet-strangely-uplifting ballads. His bluesy solo composition, Big Mouth Blues, is more ambitious for the cross between country and blues that it presents and brings GP to its close.

So, in a nutshell, GP, while it doesn't exactly go out of its way to be as ambitious as Parsons' earlier work, does stand up as a very good solo debut. Only the slightly corny a Song For You falls below par, as an album dominated not only by Parsons' talent as a songwriter but also the vocal team he'd made with Emmylou Harris really does stand up as one of the true classics of country music. Not quite as essential as a couple of albums I've already reviewed here, but highly recommended nonetheless.

8/10




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Old 09-16-2009, 09:00 PM   #30 (permalink)
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no better duets than Gram and Emmy Lou!!
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