"I'm going to put it simply: This is the single most essential Gram Parsons release. It's also the only GP compilation to ever span his entire career (with the exception of some early folk recordings).For those unwilling to buy multiple compilations featuring Gram's music(including a pricey Byrds box set), this is the best place to get the cream of the crop.First, the oft-neglected 1967 International Submarine recordings and his 1970's solo recordings are presented in sparkling remastered splendor. Second, most of the tracks that were recorded with the Byrds are present in their original Gram-sung mixes (instead of the inferior rehearsals and alternate takes which plagued the reissue of Sweethearts of the Rodeo)A problem this reviewer often has with multi-disc compilations is that perfectly worthy tracks often neglected. That's not the case with this collection. All the best of Gram Parsons is here, including the highlights of his work with the ISB, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Not a single great Parsons song was left off.Finally, the package includes a stylishly put-together booklet stuffed with rare photos, a brief biography, and track-by-track information.Whether you're a casual listener wanting to introduce yourself to the birth of so-called "country-rock" or a fan of Parsons, this compilation is an essential addition to your music library."
A nearly perfect compilation
aliled | Shawnee, Kansas United States | 03/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful 2xCD compilation - it looks great, sounds great and comes as close as humanly possible to being a perfect sampling of Gram's very consistent work. For those reasons alone, you should probably get it, particularly if you're neither a completist nor already familiar with any of Gram's material. On the other hand, you may choose to go the longer route - even so, there are plenty of reasons to get this 2xCD as well, mentioned below. For those who might want more, here's how to go about it:
1) The International Submarine Band's "Safe At Home" reissue on Sundazed contains tracks 1-6 on CD 1, as well as 4 more tracks, in excellent sound and packaging.
2) The Byrds' "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" CD on Legacy features lots of Gram vocals and involvement, including tracks 7 & 8 on CD 1, but you miss the Gram vocal take on "The Christian Life" that's on this 2xCD. The versions of "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "One Hundred Years From Now" are different, too. Although these (tracks 9-11 on CD 1 here) were on the Byrds' boxed set, they were just about the only worthwhile things on it that weren't on any of the Byrds' single CD reissues as bonus tracks - so this double CD gets you those 3 tracks quite easily.
3) The Flying Burrito Brothers "Hot Burritos!" 2xCD on A&M contains tracks 12-24 of CD 1 here, plus the first track of CD 2 . . . AND 29 more tracks, some of them excellent (though this 2xCD does a good job of capturing the best.)
4) The Reprise single CD reissue of Gram's two solo albums "GP" and "Grievous Angel" contains tracks 2-9 on CD 2, as well as tracks 13-22 on CD 2. It also has five tracks not included here. And the song "Return Of The Grievous Angel" is in a different mix here.
5) Gram Parsons & the Fallen Angels "Live 1973" CD on Rhino features tracks 10-12 on CD 2, plus nine tracks not here, in excellent sound.
6) This CD also features three outtakes from Gram's solo albums (tracks 20-22 on CD 2). These were previously available only on the import-only "Sleepless Nights," a compilation of these three tunes plus some late-period Flying Burrito Brothers country covers - the best of which are also on "Hot Burritos!" So this Rhino set is an easy way to get these three tracks without any dross.
That's it, with the exception of the recently unearthed "Another Side Of This Life: The Lost Recordings Of Gram Parsons 1965-1966," a surprisingly fine Sundazed release of previously undiscovered demos. Gram's talent is in full flower (he even performs a version of his own "Brass Buttons" roughly 8 years before its appearance on "Grievous Angel.") Most of the 18 tracks are covers of great songs by Fred Neil, Tim Hardin and other soulful folky types. It's much better than you'd think.
It's About Time!
Peter A. Laudenslager | Long Beach, California United States | 05/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally. I did it the hard way. Saw Gram thrice, met him once, bought everthing on vinyl, tried to find it again on CD and now the folks at Rhino Records had the good sense to offer his legacy to a new generation with a simple grasping motion that will secure 48 of his best songs in a handy 6x5x1" double CD that includes a comprehensive 51 page booklet. For the Gram Parsons die-hards, there is only one previously unreleased song in the set: "Knee Deep In The Blues" from his ISB sessions. For the uninitiated, Grams'Cosmic American Music is offered to the listener in chronological order. Starting with his seminal International Submarine Band's best cuts segueing into the vocal remixed songs with the Byrds heretofore unavailable except on their boxed set, and sliding into his Flying Burritos Brothers stint which culminated into his tragically curtailed days with the Fallen Angels,Gram's best recordings are here. Some of the gems include "Blue Eyes"(ISB); "Hickory Wind", "The Christian Life", "100 Years From Now(Byrds); "Do Right Woman", "Hot Burrito #1"--his most soulful song, "Dark End of the Street"(FBB);"Streets of Baltimore", "Love Hurts", "In My Hour of Darkness"--written in part for Clarence White, and "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night" (with a young Emmy Lou Harris backed by Elvis' band. I invite any reader of this review to pick up this CD and share in the wonderful aural legacy of a voice that disappeared much too soon but is generating new listeners each year.Enjoy!"
A Lovingly Packaged Anthology
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 01/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The biggest tragedy of Gram Parson's untimely death at age 26 in 1973 would be if his music died with him. This lovingly packaged two-disc anthology should go a long way toward reminding the public what an innovator he was during his all-too brief career. It begins with his 1968 recordings with the International Submarine Band through his posthumously released solo album Sleepless Nights in 1976, with stops along the way for his work with the Byrds on the classic Sweethearts of the Rodeo and his ground-breaking work with the Flying Burrito Brothers. [The only recordings that are missing are the Kingston Trio-styled songs Parsons did with the Shilohs in 1965.] The only new track here is a previously unissued out take, "Knee Deep in the Blues," from the Safe at Home sessions. What you get are 46 tracks of what Parsons liked to call "Cosmic American Music." His influence would later be heard in artists as diverse as Poco (Richie Furay "Crazy Eyes" as a tribute) to Elvis Costello (who included "I'm Your Toy" on Almost Blue). Parsons speaks from the heart on these songs. You can't listen to this music without being emotionally affected. This is powerfull stuff. ESSENTIAL"
Calling Me Home...Hickory Wind...
jerryleelewis2 | 07/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Genius is a pretty heavy label to hang on a dude, but Gram Parsons came pretty close at times during his all to brief time on this earth. To me, he stands alongside such giants as Hank Williams and Merle Haggard in the annals of country music. I stress the term country because, just like the man himself, I don't like the term country/rock. Gram's music was country at it's most beatuiful, sincere and soulful.
This small box set must surely rank as the definitive compilation, that is, if You're just gonna buy one album with Gram, then make it this one. It has exellent sound, beautiful packaging, well written liner notes, many pictures I haven't seen before and some of the best music ever recorded, regardless of genre. It features Gram's best recordings with International Submarine Band, The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and his achingly pure duets with Emmylou Harris. If You're into American popular music at it's very best You're not excused for not buying this one. I'm very grateful to the folks at Rhino Records for this release."