This two CD set was issued to tie in with the publication of Pete Doggett's excellent book of the same name. Doggett has also written the splendid Notes wherein he manages to pack in a load of information on each track. I'm assuming that he actually put the compilation together but I could be wrong. The focus on this one is the late 60's, early 70's, country rock revolution although there are also a few later tracks scattered about.
In terms of the selection, it would appear that Pete's hands were tied behind his back by Warner since there don't seem to be non-Warner artists present. Consequently we don't get some of the more obvious LA based performers like Linda Ronstadt, Poco, the late period Rick(y) Nelson and the Eagles. Nor do we get the, often overlooked, solo Mike Nesmith, though Pete obviously appreciates his capabilities judging by the number of Monkees tracks present. We also don't get the Lubbock mafia or other Texas based country artists like Guy Clark though admittedly they are from a slightly later period - see the "Country Outlaws", compiled by Garth Cartwright, for a good overview on these guys.
But to be fair, there is still some very good stuff - Warner do have a great big pool to fish in.
Ordering across the two discs is not sequential, rather it would appear to be on a loose thematic basis though only occasionally do you spot the links. Contrary to the statement I've just made, the opener is, arguably, the start of LA based country rock. It's the Byrds' Chris Hillman written, "Time Between" with Clarence White on liquid lead guitar. This one predated the "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album by a couple of albums. Still sounds good after all these years. It's immediately followed by the Desert Rose Band, featuring Hillman, with "The Price I pay", a great up-tempo track with Emmylou Harris on harmony and more stunning guitar work. This pair make a great opening for the album though the intensity does then drop, with odd flares as highlights surface.
Pete obviously likes his dramatic effects since the closing sequence is very good, and well thought out as well. The tracks are: Emmylou Harris with the Neil Young penned doomy but glorious, "Wrecking Ball", Lambchop with "Magnificent Obsession" (one of the few tracks from this band that I really like) and Gene Clark with the awesome "From a Silver Phial" from the "No Other" album. Apologies for the OTT adjective but I'm really lost for words in the face of this one. And we do get another selection from "No Other", the opener, "Life's greatest fool", another marvellous song, which appears on disc one.
- There's a surfeit of Monkees numbers, three in all, more than anyone else - the first two are disposable but the last one, "Nine times Blue" is almost Nesmith in his prime - hadn't heard this before and very nice to have - If I've counted correctly there are five Dylan penned songs across the two discs but mainly little known ones - I rate Judy Collins with her slow waltz time version of "I pity the poor immigrant", as the best of these - Running Judy close is Jerry Lee funking along nicely, with "Rita Mae" off his first Elektra album - both Judy and Jerry benefit from having James Burton's fluid guitar providing support - Jerry's second track isn't bad either - Pete does make the occasional surprise choice, "Whiskey trail" from Los Lobos is one and it's a goodie - hard, fiery rock country - Another unusual choice is that of Rank and File, an 80's band with "Amanda Ruth" - love this one - it would appear that these boys were a forerunner cowpunk outfit in that they predated the better known alt-country names by quite a few years - Another unusual choice (one that wouldn't have occurred to me) is Earth Opera featuring Peter Rowan - the latter's name crops up quite frequently in the broad area of country folk - And I confess I'd not heard the Beau Brummels before - showing my ignorance - I really liked "Turn Around" - We do get two Gram tracks but it's a pity there isn't anything from the Burrito's first album - this still seems to be the centrepiece around which most LA country rock revolved
Whilst not necessarily that representative this is still a good album. If it encourages anyone to buy Pete's book so much the better.
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