Most helpful critical review
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Gilded but tarnished by time
on 21 February 2015
To my mind - and I do realise I'm in a minority among country-rock lovers - Gram Parsons is one of the most overrated singers of the past fifty years. A great songwriter but as a singer, though he had his moments, particularly on tortured ballads or in duet with Emmylou Harris, he consistently sang slightly flat, and too often on these admittedly classic tracks (well, some of them, anyway) sounds disengaged - which, by all accounts he was, at least by the time of the second of the two LPs presented on this useful disc.
There are still some essential tracks, mainly on the first record, The Gilded Palace of Sin. However, even here I think Gram & the Burritos' versions of the Penn/Oldham songs Do Right Woman and Dark End of the Street aren't a patch on other attempts by singers such as James Carr, Percy Sledge, Aretha, Etta James or Ry Cooder.
Hot Burrito #1 (aka I'm Your Toy) is a beautiful number, and Gram's voice does his own song justice, though it's a close thing: what others hear as a vulnerable, broken baritone I hear as a fallible, barely-in-tune vocal instrument missing a string or two. Sorry to Gram's devoted fans, but I really have tried. His two albums under his own name are much better and more cohesive, with Emmylou adding to the overall musicality.
There are to my mind better records from the period, for example by the Dillards, Poco, NRPS, and of course GP's onetime cohorts The Byrds. These tracks too often sound shoddy, with GP's haunted, lonesome voice over-indulged by both the band and the man himself. He was a great and influential talent, and a much missed one, but this Burrito compilation doesn't show him at his best.
You may not agree with me, and many won't, but know that I write 'more in sorrow than in anger'.