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8 February 2015

Flying Burrito Bros. - 'Burrito Deluxe' (A&M)

And now a blast of west-coast country rock, here far more pushed toward the "rock" side of the equation. There's a pretty good reason why this is never put in the same rarified air as The Gilded Palace of Sin - because it's nowhere near as good. Unfortunately I've never come across a copy of Gilded Palace, but enjoy listening to this from time to time. Gram Parsons leaves after this one and you still get a few bright, strident Parsons songs like 'Lazy Days'; a lot of covers fill this, including a lackluster version of Dylan's 'If You Gotta Go' (which I don't enjoy hearing in English, thanks Fairport) and a great version of the Stones' 'Wild Horses' featuring Leon Russell on piano. Jim Dickson co-produced this and it sounds great, even on this beat-up scratchy copy; all the high-mids ring out and the mandolin strum in particular sounds as fresh as yesterday. The songwriting just feels a bit behind the pace - there's nothing as cripplingly contrived as 'Sin City' or 'Dark End of the Street' here; the most memorable tune besides 'Wild Horses' is probably 'Farther Along', a traditional arranged here in full Burrito fashion, or the bouncy 'Down in the Churchyard'. Bernie Leadon's guitar lines are sharp, overpowering the pedal steel on songs like 'Older Guys'; his 'God's Own Singer' here presages the Eagles. But overall, this record is just too goddamn upbeat to really stand up as a classic. I've seen this tacked onto CD reissues of Gilded Palace and that's a great place for it. It ends with 'Wild Horses' which really is the strongest song, done straight but with those beautiful American harmonies adding a level of gloss over the longing. Bonus points for the back cover where they look like members of some cult. I have no idea what the band has sounded like since; I guess there's been a zillion members and something tours now under that name with zero original members (my friend saw them by accident in rural Norway a few years back).

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