Whatever she does, it is impossible for Emmylou Harris to disappoint. Nothing beats her beautiful voice or her exquisite taste in songs. This album, first released in 1976, has been enhanced by the addition of Me And Willie and Night Flyer. She does a stunning cover of the Towns van Zandt song Pancho And Lefty plus stirring versions of the old country classics Making Believe and When I Stop Dreaming. The title track and She are Gram Parsons compositions, lovingly interpreted by Harris. My other favorites include the moving country ballad I'll Be Your San Antone Rose, her cover of Chuck Berry's (You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie, Hello Stranger, the duet with Nicolette Larson, and the lilting Tulsa Queen, a song about a train which equals Arlo Guthrie's City Of New Orleans any day. Both the previously unissued tracks are great. Me And Willie is a melancholy song about life in a travelling country band, whilst Night Flyer with Delia Bell is a powerful ballad with breathtaking harmony vocals, and moody mandolin. The CD booklet contains 2 full colour and 5 black & white pics of the graceful songbird, plus extensive liner notes on her career and background on all the songs up to Tulsa Queen. All the lyrics are included, including the two new songs. Although I like Pieces Of the Sky, Roses In The Snow, Cowgirl's Prayer, Wrecking Ball and Red Dirt Girl a little bit more, this album still deserves five stars! Emmylou's music enriches the mind and emotions in many ways and is always spiritually uplifting.
Like many of Emmylou's early albums, covers dominate. Emmylou's superb singing backed by some top-notch musicians ensures that the album is brilliant. The album yielded two top ten country hits. Making believe is a country classic, which had been a huge country hit for Kitty Wells in the fifties. You never can tell (C'Est la vie) is a cover of a Chuck Berry song. Much though I enjoy Chuck's music, I think Emmylou's version of this song is superior to the original. Emmylou included two contrasting Gram Parsons, the title track (an up-tempo rocker) and She (a sad ballad). Rodney Crowell, then a member of Emmylou's band, wrote the catchy You're supposed to be feeling good. He also co-wrote Tulsa queen with Emmylou. Pancho and Lefty became better known after Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard recorded it in the early eighties but I prefer Emmylou's version of this Townes Van Zandt classic. I'll be your San Antone rose had been a country hit for Dottsy, a singer who (sadly) has long since faded into obscurity. When I stop dreaming is a Louvin Brothers song, which feature Dolly Parton lending vocal support. Hello stranger is a great cover of a Carter family song. This is one of the finest albums in Emmylou's long and distinguished career.
I've been listening to Carly Simon in my car lately, and I thought I would try another woman singer from the same time (approx. mid-1970's) just to try to get a fix on what Carly Simon was doing. Well, she wasn't doing anything quite as consistent, compelling, and stylistically assured as Emmylou Harris was doing with "Luxury Liner." In Carly's early records, you have a really good voice and good musical instincts, but everything sounds just a bit "poppified." There's a tendency to give a catchiness to the material, no matter what the words would seem to require. Not that it's always catchy in the same way -- but Carly aims to please. Emmylou aims to express -- there's more emotional variety on the album, even though a lot of the songs are of pain, loss, leaving. Harris avails herself of a wide range of material, from 1938 ("Hello Stranger," beautifully duetted with Nicolette Larson) up to the mid-1980's (the bonus track "Night Flyer" -- the original album came out in 1976). There's a Townes Van Zandt song, the narrative ballad "Pancho and Lefty," which Harris sees as the centerpiece of the album, and there are a couple by Gram Parsons and one by Chuck Berry (the upbeat high spot of the album, "C'est la vie.") And though "Boulder to Birmingham," Harris's elegy for Gram Parsons, is on another album, it's hard not to think that "Me and Willy" is another such elegy. My own favorite is "I'll be your San Antone Rose" -- a generic story, but it sounds like the essence of county here.
Harris's voice is all of a piece -- she doesn't sound like a different singer on different songs (as Carly Simon can), but it's a distinctive and lovely sound, with a nasal tinge to it, basically an alto but with the ability to go a bit higher (to lovely effect in the refrain of "Me and Willy"). But a lot of the quality of this album is owed to the band and to the engineers, who let us hear everything. Acoustic and electric guitars, pedal steel and drums can create amazingly varied textures, and when you add, here and there, a fiddle (Ricky Skaggs no less), harmonica, and mandolin -- and when they all register distinctly in the aural mix, the effect is special. The basic feel is "country," but it's a richer country than one usually hears. Great work too by Rhino for the booklet, additional songs, and remastering. Great album!
I bought this shortly after Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town, which was the soundtrack to my life for a good while. This album's more downbeat at first but has grown to become "probably my favourite" Emmylou album. Worth it for "Tulsa Queen" alone, my favourite Emmy song (and knocking Madame George by Van Morrison off the funeral setlist #1 slot). It drifts away then comes back to finish the heart off. Anyone unfamiliar with Miss Harris should buy this instantly and be blown away by her voice; songs recorded before I was born to keep me alive. Oh Emmy!
It’s over 25 years since I first bought this album (on cassette, remember them?). Fast forward through the years and Emmylou’s stock has never been higher. ‘Stumble Into Grace’ and ‘Red Dirt Girl’, where Emmylou suddenly let us see how good a songwriter she could be, are generally accepted as masterpieces but what about this, one of her early albums? It undeniably possesses the sound of seventies country rock, with pedal steel, fiddle and country licks all present and correct. Paradoxically though, it doesn’t sound like an antique piece. Just goes to show that good songs, well performed, and sympathetically produced, will always endure. The title track, a Gram Parsons song, starts the album off at a fair old lick, featuring some excellent guitar work from Albert Lee. The only track I didn’t really like first time around, ‘Pancho And Lefty’ by Townes Van Zandt verges on the maudlin but I can live with it now. There are number of excellent songs on here though. Fittingly, given her close association with him, Emmylou’s version of Gram Parson’s classic ‘She’ almost replaces his as the definitive version. Berry’s ‘(You Can Never Can Tell) C’est La Vie’ survives it’s transformation into West Coast country with its dignity intact, although the original Berry version is unsurpassable. ‘Tulsa Queen’ by Emmylou and Rodney Crowell is an excellent evocative song that sounds like it’s always been there. If you’re looking at these reissues and wondering which to buy first I can’t really help you, just go the whole hog and buy them all.
I had the original LP, which I loved and then sold as I stopped buying vinyls. I got hold of this 2004 remaster version, it was like an old friend turning up but somehow improved. This is one of my favourite early Emmylou albums still played regularly. The whole band is superb and the song variety is great favourites include "Pancho & Lefty", "l'll be your San Antone Rose" and "She" but there isn't a weak track. The next best album is Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town buy that as well for early Emmylou to hear that wonderful soaring voice that has got deeper over the years
What can you say,its a classic ablum, I have finally bought a copy and this remastered version doesn't disappoint. . If like me you may only ever buy one Emmylou Harris album, this ablum, in this version won't let you down.Enjoy at great artist performing great songs..