Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Pieces of the Sky
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock
Emmylou Harris's 1975 major-label debut unveiled the formula that she would revisit numerous times throughout the decade: a melding of traditional country's honesty, folk music's heart, and country-rock's punch. Her choice... more »
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Emmylou Harris's 1975 major-label debut unveiled the formula that she would revisit numerous times throughout the decade: a melding of traditional country's honesty, folk music's heart, and country-rock's punch. Her choice of material followed a similar curve--everything from Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, and the Louvin Brothers to the Beatles and Shel Silverstein. Former Elvis sidemen James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, and Ron Tutt along with guests like Ricky Skaggs, fiddler Richard Greene, and pianist Bill Payne of Little Feat form a formidable supporting cast. What's most impressive is Harris's versatility--she moves from delicate acoustic ballads to buoyant two-steppers to lavish string arrangements without ever sounding overmatched. She even takes a very personal tale like Dolly Parton's wonderful "Coat of Many Colors" and makes it her story. She may have inherited the band and the vision from her late mentor Gram Parsons, but the shimmering soprano voice is all her own. --Marc Greilsamer
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Where It All Started
J. Kelly | Salem, OR United States | 06/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"December 7, 1974 my friend Early and I went to see Leo Kottke at Minnesota Orchestra Hall. The opening act that night was an unknown girl singer named Emmylou Harris. We had no idea what to expect and little interest - we'd come to see Kottke. As soon as we saw Emmylou, we began to get interested and when she opened her mouth and started singing, we were completely and totally mesmerized. A voice like nothing we'd ever heard before. And, a voice that is still instantly identifiable.
Pieces Of The Sky came out early in 1975 and I was almost afraid to play it, afraid that it could never match what I remembered from that cold December night. But as soon as the needle hit the record, I knew that it was everything I remembered and more. "Bluebird Wine", "The Bottle Let Me Down", songs that really show that she can make a song move. "If I Could Only Win Your Love", the first of many Louvin Brothers songs that she exposed to a whole new audience. And my favorite, "Too Far Gone." Everything about the way "Too Far" is produced says that it should be a disaster. I mean, heavy strings, for Pete's sake? Instead, Emmylou makes both the song and the arrangement a masterpiece.
Since "Pieces", I've bought nearly all of Emmylou's works and have rarely been disappointed. I would urge anyone who doesn't own this disc, to get it immediately. It's a timeless piece of work that stands as well today as it did when it was released 30 years ago.
Thanks for all you've done for country music, Emmylou. I just wish that today's Nashville suits would go back and listen to this CD and and understand how beautiful three chords and the truth can sound. They - and we - need you more than ever."
A classic - but not your daughter's alt-country
J. Kelly | 12/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Emmylou was a delightful discovery nearly 30 years ago, and her first album remains a joy. Before she started experimenting with different genres several albums down the road, before age took a toll on her voice and she adapted with grace, producing masterpieces like "Wrecking Ball", there was this pure clean gorgeous voice like no other. And there was a unique sound that hit the ground running here, with a perfect album in which every song was a solid winner.This isn't today's "alt-country", and indeed it may well be more country than some of Emmylou's 21st-century fans are comfortable with. Back in the day, we hippie sorts had nothing to do with official country music, and the official world of country music would have nothing to do with Emmylou. She was nowhere near to moving to Nashville yet, and was played on the same FM stations that played rock music. Her music was a continuation of music we then put in the country-rock genre, which was considered every bit as cool as any other sort of rock in the early 70's. In a rock historian's book, maybe the driving force was Gram Parsons joining the Byrds and helping create their "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album. But out in the real world, no one had heard of Gram Parsons, was unlikely to have heard more than a song or two from that album, and what brought country-rock into our worlds were later incarnations of the Byrds, Bob Dylan doing "Nashville Skyline", and lesser bands like New Riders of the Purple Sage or Commander Cody. Those are the sounds that primed us for the far more enduring music of Emmylou Harris.Without denying Gram Parsons his due, he is known today largely because of the work Emmylou Harris started so brilliantly here. Some have said below that her covers of other people's songs were often superior to the originals, and I agree. I'll go a step farther and say that it's her covers of music that Parsons wrote or loved that not only put it on the map, but that made it sound good enough for it to acquire what eventually became a huge audience. I don't think that detracts from his talents, but it speaks to the beauty of her voice and the arrangements and production on this album and those that followed.Listening to this CD decades later, it is striking how country it is, and hard to remember how easily we accepted this music in the rock world way back when. It's nearly as hard to imagine why her work wasn't accepted at the time by the country audience. And nowadays, when her voice is an entirely different sort of instrument, it's impossible to imagine why reviewers at the time thought her voice wasn't strong enough for a solo artist, and that she was better suited to being a backup singer. Though I was a huge fan, I felt there was some truth to the criticisms, and what drew me in were her soft, unspeakably sweet, angelic interpretations of slower songs. Tastes were just so different then. Compared to all the lovely and popular, but much-weaker, girlish voices of today's alt-country world, the Emmylou of the 70's belted songs out with a voice whose strength I had nearly forgotten. It is stunning to listen to today, after years of spending much more time with Wrecking Ball. Emmylou really rocked country long before "crossover" was invented.This is probably an essential Emmylou album for anyone who is a fan of her 70's and 80's work. If you're browsing because you have a love affair with Wrecking Ball or later work, this may not be your cup of tea. To those of us who were there, this is the voice we loved doing the music we loved, and represents Emmylou at her peak - or, rather, one of her many peaks."
A classic for both country & non-country fans
Neal C. Reynolds | Indianapolis, Indiana | 02/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I kid you not, this is pure country. But Emmylou has always had a huge non-country audience. There is something in her voice, in her delivery, that one has to like, regardless of genre.I was a D.J. (among other duties) at a small radio station in Cottonwood, Arizona, when Emmy Lou came out with this, her first album. That was over 30 years ago, and this still stands as a classic.Anybody listening to this album will have his or her favorites. These are mine: "Too Far Gone", a soulful ballad in which emmylou's plaintive voice expresses a beauty, an integrity, which is still her trade mark."If I Could Only Win Your Love", which I believe was her first hit. Whatever, it sounds just as fresh to me as it did thirty-something years ago. "Boulder To Birmingham" is another enduring favorite, expressing Emmy Lou's versatility and ability to evoke emotion.It takes a truly great singer to take songs associated with other singers and present us with a worthwhile interpretation comparable in quality to the original. Merle Haggard's "Bottle Let Me Down" could've been written for her, her version being uniquely styled.Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors" again illustrate her superb way of handling another's song. The current term of course is "cover", but in the case of these two songs, the term just doesn't seem to fit, IMHO.I will quickly mention one cut which I consider a lesser one, but well worth noting, Lennon/McCartney's "For No One". Even at the very beginning, she showed off the diversity, the range of her talents.This debut album is brought to a close with the rousing, yet poignant "Queen of the Silver Dollar", written by the great Shel Silverstein. Listen carefully, very carefully, and you will catch Linda Ronstadt's voice in the background.All in all, as I said from the beginning, this is a classic album which is pure country, yet with an appeal to all musical tastes."