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Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute To Gram Parsons

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 July 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Almo Sounds
  • ASIN: B00002594T
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,609 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

The gentle hand of Emmylou Harris guides this tribute to ill-fated country-rock avatar Gram Parsons, which goes a long way toward explaining why this star-studded salute avoids the pitfalls that befall many such projects. Harris got her start harmonising with the patron saint of alt. country, contributing mightily to Parsons' two early 1970s solo albums and reviving selections from his small, but indispensable, oeuvre throughout her career. She has a vested interest in finding a true connection between her former benefactor and this cast of Parsons partisans. Here she bands together a flock of followers who range from obvious offspring (Wilco, Gillian Welch, Whiskeytown) to not-so-evident disciples (Beck, the Pretenders, Sheryl Crow). Parsons's partner in the Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Hillman, teams with Steve Earle on "High Fashion Queen" and David Crosby (like Parsons and Hillman, an ex- Byrd) joins Lucinda Williams on "Return Of The Grievous Angel". Harris harmonises with Beck on "Sin City" and shares the microphone with Crow on "Juanita", one of the collection's highlights. Ultimately, Harris has assembled a homage that would've pleased her old mentor. --Steven Stolder

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Although I was aware of Emmylou Harris I was not an avid fan until her Wrecking Ball album, then just after that I bought the Gram Parsons double album GP/Grievous Angel. Parsons of course launched Emmylou Harris's career and she dueted with him on his albums. This new album would not have happened without Emmylou - maybe only she could have done it. She sings on it and produced it. Gram Parsons songs challenged the norms of the day. Now we have a surprisingly mixed group of artists; all bring something new to these songs and all seem to put their very soul into them. The result is not for the traditionalists and certainly not for the Line Dance Brigade. But if you really love country music and are not scared of it developing - listen and be challenged again by GP's atmospheric songs. He would have been happy to be there when it was recorded - maybe he was....
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Format: Audio CD
It seems as thought everyone and his dog wants to do a Gram Parsons cover these days, but pub bands around the world would do well to sit up and take notice of this collection. On the whole the choice of tracks is fairly mainstream, but unlike so many tribute albums, no-one seems to have resorted to a 'Gram-by-numbers' scenario. Sheryl Crow duets with Emmylou Harris on an ethereal 'Juanita', and Whiskeytown's 'Song For You' goes to show that all those who suggest Ryan Adams as a possible contender for Parsons' crown have a strong argument. The Mavericks' take on 'Hot Burrito #1' is beautiful, heart-rending stuff and The Cowboy Junkies make inject a new lease of life into the oft-covered 'Ooh, Las Vegas'. Slightly less well matched are Elvis Costello and 'Sleepless Nights', but it doesn't detract from what is definately a fitting triubute to one of the greatst songwriters of recent history.
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Format: Audio CD
While it's admirable that so many contemporary musicians of high standing (Elvis Costello, Beck, Steve Earle, Lemonheads, etc.) cared enough about cult country legend Gram Parsons to put together a tribute album, very rarely does this disc scratch through the surface of what made Parsons' music great.
Parsons was a rock musician of the '60s and '70s who took traditional country music and fused it with rock (he was briefly a member of the Byrds), thereby trailblazing a path through American alternative rock that continues to be explored today by the likes of Beck, Wilco and Mercury Rev. He also had a sublime gift for evoking incredible emotion and power in his vocals and his songwriting, but few of the artists on this album are able to take the original recordings and improve them... perhaps because the originals were so good.
Highlights include Beck's pared-down "Sin City", The Cowboy Junkies' interesting update of "Las Vegas", and Elvis Costello's (can the man do no wrong?) "Sleepless Nights", but elsewhere it's little more than a star-studded karaoke fest.
It's great that Gram Parsons is finally receiving some credit for his huge influence on American music, but the listener would do better to make sure he or she owns Parsons' seminal 'G.P/Grievous Angel' double set and his earlier work with the Flying Burrito Brothers, the sum of which contains the original gems mined for this tribute.
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Format: Audio CD
Ryan Adams as Whiskeytown and the cover of a Song For You has held as one of the most influential covers I have ever heard in 30 years of hearing music through hugely expensive hi if systems. It ranks as a recording that reproduced well ranks in my all time top ten. Given a collection of 3000 cd,s and around 5000 albums I would suggest that puts it somewhere in the top ten of all country recordings. Get it - enjoy and just appreciate the fact this was a wordsmith of some note. Add to that a collection of covers that frankly make the current crop look like the lightweights they are. Enjoy
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Format: Audio CD
There is no doubt Emmylou Harris has put her all into this project. The tracks she sings on are as heartfelt as you'd expect them to be, but her main achievement has been in bringing together a set of artists who believe in the music of Gram almost as much as she does. There is a good selection of songs and the versions we get are always good, more often than not, outstanding. Lucinda Williams and David Crosby do a great job on Return of the Grievous Angel; I couldnt imagine this being sung by anyone other than Gram and then never by a woman, but amazingly, they pull it off. Evan Dando's version of $1000 Dollar Wedding is a little pacey for me, but his voice is as soulful as ever. Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams give us a wonderful verson of Song For You - you cant help thinking Ryan is completely on Gram's wavelength when you hear this one- it takes its time and the nuances and emotional depth of the lyrics shine through.

Other highlights are Elvis Costello's version of Sleepless Nights, he makes every line count, and Juanita is simply beautiful. The Mavericks and Steve Earle provide some uptempo fun with Wilco pitching in with a very rocky version of 100 Years From Now. Gillian Welch delivers a truly haunting version of Hickory Wind in total contrast to Gram's own 'live' version - full of longing and regret it's a stark and eerily quiet rendition. Gram's version by contrast sits against the backdrop of a rowdy bar complete with smashing glasses and catcalls; its a bit faster, but the fact is the song loses nothing, and is perhaps even more poignant for all that. Gillian's cover is what Gram might sing if the bar ever emptied and everyone was allowed to go home. Or maybe its what you sing if you dont go to bars anymore. Both versions are great.
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