Juan Falcone | Rockland County, New York | 11/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This double CD (not 1 disc as indicated in Amazon product description) documents two live performances at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, in April 1969. Track list:
Disc 1 (April 4th):
1. Close Up the Honky Tonks 2. Dark End of the Street 3. Undo The Right/Somebody's Back In Town 4. She Once Lived Here 5. We've Got to Get Ourselves Together 6. Lucille 7. Hot Burrito #1 8. Hot Burrito #2 9. Long Black Limousine 10. Mental Revenge 11. Sin City 12. Thousand Dollar Wedding (bonus track, not from live concert) 13. When Will I Be Loved (ditto)
Disc 2 (April 6th):
1. Undo The Right/Somebody's Back In Town 2. She Once Lived Here 3. Mental Revenge 4. We've Got to Get Ourselves Together 5. Lucille 6. Sin City 7. You Win Again 8. Hot Burrito #1 9. Hot Burrito #2 10. You're Still On My Mind 11. Train Song 12. Long Black Limousine 13. Sweet Dream Baby 14. Do Right Woman
These performances, recorded just a few weeks after FBB's groundbreaking studio album "Gilded Palace of Sin," provide a fascinating window into their live sound then. The sound quality is good, if a bit bass-heavy. As another reviewer mentioned, the guitars seem to be missing from the mix. But it's not a big issue. The resulting stripped-down, clean mix highlights Sneaky Pete Kleinow, who was a killer pedal steel guitarist. It also brings to the forefront FBB's calling card, the vocal harmonies of Gram Parsons (just 22 at the time) and Chris Hillman.
If you close your eyes during the bluesy, loose-jointed rhythms of "We've Got To Get Ourselves Together" and "Train Song" (a Parsons-Hillman composition), you might imagine that you're listening to the Grateful Dead. This is no coincidence, as the Burritos were opening for the Dead, and the tape was made by the Dead's sound engineer, Bear. But it does connect some mental dots -- the Grateful Dead certainly exemplified Gram Parsons' concept of Cosmic American music.
"Long Black Limo" and "Mental Revenge" are rousing highlights of the April 4th concert. "You Win Again" by Hank Williams, from the April 6th evening, is another standout. Both Hank and Gram were sons of the South; neither saw their 30th birthday, owing to overdoses of opiates and alcohol. As Pamela des Barres and producer Dave Prinz allude to in the liner notes, it was fairly outrageous for the Burritos to be playing such country-fried songs for the "chemically imbalanced" (Gram's words during one of the intros) flower children of San Francisco, in 1969. But history has amply validated his judgement.
Five of the songs on "Gilded Palace of Sin" appear on this live set. Curiously, "Christine's Tune" (a signature song of the Burritos) does not. It's probably just as well, as the acoustic guitar riff which opens the song is essential, and would not have been very audible on this recording.
If you're wondering about buying "Archives Volume 1," there's a reason why people dig up 38-year-old recordings of the Flying Burrito Brothers from the Grateful Dead's vault. The Burritos left a deep, indelible, original mark on American music, which will not fade away. Others followed, but they were there first. The title "Volume One" offers hope that Amoeba Records may have more to share with us."
Well worth the wait!!
A. Genetta | Chester County, PA USA | 11/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like everything Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers did, this live 2 CD set of tunes will remind fans why they loved these guys in the first place! Thanks to Amoeba records and Dave Prinz for pursuing these "lost" tapes of the band.
Both shows captured on this set are well worth the listen, but I prefer the April 4th set a bit more for some beautiful and heartbreaking takes of "She Once Lived Here" "Hot Burrito #1" "Dark End of the Street" and "Sin City" sung by Gram, and backed up by Chris Hillman. There's a somewhat funky, jazzy version of "Hot Burrito #2" and great covers of Little Richard's "Lucille" and "Sweet Mental Revenge" (Waylon Jenning's tune). One weaker track is the second set's "Do Right Woman" - not one of their best performances for sure. ....Overall an excellent addition. ...Hey Amoeba, got any more stuff?! Enjoy."
GRAM'S LATEST: 39 YEARS IN THE MAKING . . .
Charlie | Victorville, CA USA | 11/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The new Gram Parsons CD is actually the new Flying Burrito Brother CD. It's a double disc set, beautifully packaged with great photos and liner notes. In April of '69 the FBB opened for the Grateful Dead for 3 nights. Two of those performances are presented here after sitting in the vaults for 39 years. Hats off to Amoeba Records for a job well done!
The sound is surprisingly clear, miles better than the old bootlegs circulating of a few of these tracks. (I can't help but wonder if the guitars somehow didn't make it to the soundboard though -- plenty of tasty steel guitar, drums, bass and keyboard, but not an acoustic guitar in sight.)
Performance-wise, it's vintage Gram/FBB -- spirited, expressive, fun and a little sloppy. Great harmonies (thanks to Chris Hillman) and great songs, many not available by Gram anywhere else. Highlights include Sweet Mental Revenge, Long Black Limousine, Undo The Right and Lucille, as well as the FBB's own Sin City and Hot Burrito #1.
A great bonus is two unreleased demos: Gram alone at the piano working on Thousand Dollar Wedding with some different lyrics (the "young bride PASSED away" instead of went away!), and a very loose workout on When Will I Be Loved from '67 with Gram and other unidentified voices (the Int'l Sub Band?)
If you're a Gram fan, this is an obvious must have, five-star release. For the merely Gram-curious it probably isn't the place to start. But either way it's a look back at special time that ended way too soon. Thanks Gram."
Return of the Grievous Angel
Bradford Kissell | Eden Prairie, MN USA | 11/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gram and the Burritos from the "Gilded Palace of Sin" have always held a special place that no other band could quite replicate. This live recording, which follows that truly unique and groundbreaking recording, is that missing piece of country rock's formative years that was never satisfied by subsequent Burrito efforts (or those the group inspired). Only Gram's solo LPs reminded us of his unique talent and vision, captured exquisitely in his perfect exit, "Grievous Angel." These live recordings from the Avalon are especially kind to the Burrito's strengths: those wonderful vocals and the late Sneaky Pete's hot pedal steel. While the performances and recording are a bit ragged here and there, it's offers some nice and unexpected insite into this pivotal band. What an interesting song selection, even if gems like "Juanita" weren't on the set list either night. I was lucky enough to see Gram and the Burritos a month before his demons forced his bandmates to sever ties. He had it together that night in May 1970, in front of a sparse, $3-per-person crowd in a St. Paul college gymnasium. He would have been just 23 at the time, but he held himself with the kind of poise and sophistication that makes a strong case for reincarnation. (Hank? Was that you?) As these live shows remind us, Gram got it, had it, and in the end, blew it. They provide great insight into the vision of this seminal figure, even if this thing could have been titled in a way that gave the band more credit. But maybe this time, a Burritos recording will inspire a new generation--one that won't be as willing to take their lead straight down the path to Lite FM."
Essential Live Burritos, Awesome Gram
Hardy Melville | 03/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a huge Gram Parsons fan for years, and got this for Christmas. I have given it some time to let it sink in.
But this is an awesome addition to my collection of Parsons's material, and I am enjoying it immensely. Any Gram fan will want to have it and, unlike the confusing offerings of different collections of his studio material, you will know that only on this two disc collection will you be able to find the material included.
I've had the live album Gram did with Emmylou and the Fallen Angels tour for what is now a long time now, and that one is well recorded with a reasonable level of performance shown by the band. This is an earlier work by the Burritos, who by comparison were known for being more sloppy, even very sloppy, and several early studio efforts by Parsons were known for mediocre production, even the great Gilded Palace of Sin. As a result I was quite pleasantly surprised here by the production quality, which one perhaps shouldn't be given the Dead's people were involved in the recording. Equally if not more surprising is that the band's performance is reasonably tight, with some obvious mistakes still found here and there. I would have to guess the monitors were not the very best for the vocalists by contemporary standards, as some of the harmony work could have been tighter.
Despite that, Chris Hillman does a very good job here with the harmony work, as does Parsons who, after all, is the artist that really makes this collection so worth getting and listening to. While in Gram's short career he went on to do such great work with Emmylou, with the Burritos he had already found his voice and performed some of his better self written compositions, such as Sin City, the two Hot Burrito numbers, and others along with covers both included in the studio albums and some only found here.
I recently finished reading Twenty Thousand Roads, the biography on Parsons, and one thing that work makes clear is that Gram worked at actually playing gigs more than he did in preparing beforehand for them. He would frequently show up under the influence, maybe always being at least somewhat so. But he was comfortable in his skin up on stage, and he played live frequently in a great variety of venues. His performance is one here, as I think on the good nights it usually was, where you can hear a soulfullness rarely found in singers having much more well known and widespread reputations. I get the impression many who criticize his singing talent are comparing how he comes close or falls short compared to people like George Jones, who certainly set a standard. But Parsons sets his own, and his instantly recognizable voice is here evident in all it's effective and appealing glory.
Having said all that, it has always been true of Parsons that he is more appreciated by musicians and musically knowledgeable people than the more general music listening public, and I don't think there's anything in particular about this album that will change that reception. Even so this collection has some added historical significance in seeing how this LA based country rock band, which was a very new thing indeed at the time, opened a set for the Dead at the Avalon, in the heart of the San Francisco scene at the time. This was before the Dead made their own turn into a more country approach found on American Beauty, but you can hear that at least some of their fans seemed to get it and enjoy it from the crowd reaction. Maybe the casual listener will today, too.