I’m pressing with the “Great Thanksgiving Vinylfest of 2016” while the turkey cooks, the gravy simmers, the pie bakes, and whatever the hell it is we’re doing with the butternut squash. Let’s just say the house sure smells great!
Anyway, Part 2 of the program this afternoon is comprised of the self-titled album by the Flying Burrito Brothers.
I found this album just this past week in the discount bin at the Niagara Records store in St. Catharines. As you can see, it ain’t in too great condition meaning that it has been passed around and sold and resold about a billion times since it’s release in 1971. But the record itself is fine and that’s all that matters to me.
Before the recording sessions for this album began, Gram Parsons departed from the band for a solo career, leaving Chris Hillman and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow to carry on. In Parsons’ place, the band hired a young unknown musician named Rick Roberts, who later was the lead singer of Firefall. Guitarist Bernie Leadon would also leave the band shortly after the album’s release, going on to found the Eagles.
Over the winter of 1970 to 1971 the band returned to Sunset Studios to record this, their third album. With Jim Dickson again the producer, the group developed original pieces mainly from Chris Hillman and Rick Roberts, along with a revisitation of both a Bob Dylan (‘To Ramona‘) and Merle Haggard (‘White Line Fever‘) compositions. The real highlight thought could be the neck-snappin’ groove of ‘Four Days of Rain‘, and ‘Colorado‘ which might be considered as the FBB’s revision of Procol Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade of Pale‘.
It’s apparent here that Roberts owes more to the L.A. country and folk-rock that Hillman had been previously mining with the Byrds than to the traditional country influences that Parsons had brought to the original Burrito Brothers. And whereas Hillman was great in a support role behind Parsons and during his days with the Byrds behind Roger McGuinn or Gene Clark, his role as co-leader with someone who lacks that sort of forceful personality only brings his weaknesses to the fore. On the previous two Burrito recordings, Hillman co-wrote much of the best material and helped Parsons to realize his vision of “cosmic American music”. But here the sound is much closer to that which bandmate Bernie Leadon would go on to record a year later with the Eagles.
And so it goes this afternoon.
Soon, the entire fam-damily will be here and all hell will inevitably break loose, so this is likely going to be my last vestige of tranquility today and, believe me, this album makes it time well spent.