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Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute To Gram Parsons
Various Artists
Return Of The Grievous Angel: A Tribute To Gram Parsons
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

The gentle hand of Emmylou Harris guides this tribute to ill-fated country-rock avatar Gram Parsons, which goes a long way toward explaining why this star-studded salute avoids the pitfalls that befall many such projects. ...  more »


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The gentle hand of Emmylou Harris guides this tribute to ill-fated country-rock avatar Gram Parsons, which goes a long way toward explaining why this star-studded salute avoids the pitfalls that befall many such projects. Harris got her start harmonizing with the patron saint of alt country, contributing mightily to Parsons's two early 1970s solo albums and reviving selections from his small, but indispensable, oeuvre throughout her career. She has a vested interest in finding a true connection between her former benefactor and this cast of Parsons partisans. Here she bands together a flock of followers who range from obvious offspring (Wilco, Gillian Welch, Whiskeytown) to not-so-evident disciples (Beck, the Pretenders, Sheryl Crow). Parsons's partner in the Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Hillman, teams with Steve Earle on "High Fashion Queen," and David Crosby (like Parsons and Hillman, an ex-Byrd) joins Lucinda Williams on "Return of the Grievous Angel." Harris harmonizes with Beck on "Sin City" and shares the mic with Crow on "Juanita," one of the collection's highlights. Ultimately, Harris has assembled a homage that would've pleased her old mentor. --Steven Stolder

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CD Reviews

You'll Never Believe This Is A Tribute Album.
Matt Coker | Davis, CA, USA | 01/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"RETURN OF THE GRIEVOUS ANGEL is far too good for the tribute album stamp. Tribute albums are known for being notoriously bad, offering second or third rate version of songs by an artist, with arrangements similar to the originals. However, none of this is present on this exceptional album. Part of the reason might be the strenght of Gram Parsons's song. Another might be the fact that the ultra-talented Emmylou Harris served as executive producer. The artists who made the recordings also have a remarkable amount of talent listed in order of appearence on the record: The Pretenders, Emmylou Harris, The Cowboy Junkies, Beck, Evan Dando, Julianna Hatfield, The Mavericks, Chris Hillman, Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, David Crosby, Wilco, Whiskeytown, Gillian Welch, The Rolling Creekdippers. The arrangements of these songs are intriging, and perfectly performed. "She" is a beautiful song, which sounds natural, but not identical to, the arrangements of Gram Parson's original. "Ooh Las Vegas" is completely re-worked, which is a brand new sound experience, sounding almost other worldy. "Sin City" is an outstanding duet, when hearing this for the first time, I got a clearer meaning of the song. "$1,000 Wedding" is a beautiful, and powerful song. The Mavericks give "Hot Burrito #1" a new great flavor, keeping the song fresh and eager. My second favorite on the album (next to the title track) is "High Fashion Queen" sung by the brilliant talents of Chris Hillman and Steve Earle. The song is great country-rock music, and flawlessly written. Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow sound like angels performing "Juanita", the harmonies are gorgeous. Elvis Costello delievers a marvelous version of "Sleepless Nights", the only cover version on the tribute album. My favorite song on the album is "Return Of The Grievous Angel", the title track of Gram Parsons's last masterpiece. Lucinda Williams and David Crosby magnificently re-work the song, and deliever a fantastic track. It sounds almost like it belongs on Lucinda Williams's CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD (also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). Wilco also marvelously re-works another masterpiece "One Hundred Years From Now". The song here is a straight-out, full-fledged rocker. The majestic "A Song For You" is an emotional song, beautifully performed by Whiskeytown. Gillian Welch performs a gorgeous version of the classic masterpiece "Hickory Wind". "Hickory Wind" is so wonderful, there can't be a way to ruin a song this perfect. The Rolling Creekdippers close the CD on an inspirational note with "In My Hour Of Darkness". No matter what kind of music you love, you'll be satisfied by RETURN OF THE GRIEVOUS ANGEL. After listening to music this good, some of my CDs now pale in comparison. After hearing and buying RETURN OF THE GRIEVOUS ANGEL, I've made a point of buying the original Gram Parson's albums: SAFE AT HOME (with the International Submarine Band), SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO (with The Byrds), THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN and BURRITO DELUXE (with The Flying Burrito Brothers), and GP/GRIEVOUS ANGEL (by Gram Parsons). This is music at its best, just one listen and you'll agree."
Simply the Best of the Gram Tribute recordings to Date
Matt Coker | 12/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Isn't it a little outragious that we now have not only this wonderful tribute Album but three others to choose from after spending untold years combing through Import Bins to find yet another elusive Gram Parsons or Burrito Bros Track? All the sudden there is a Gram-Glut, but.. you don't hear me complaining! If you are new to your Gram-Fandom, this here is the first Tribute Album you should buy for several reasons: First, this one gathers together a unique blend of the most memorable Gram tunes performed by a group of artists who inherited the mantle he passed on. Other Tribute recordings have a more varied mix of performers and the renditions of the songs do not always sound "Gram-like" or even true to the origins of the material. The second reason to start with this one is that it is the only one Produced by Emmylou Harris, Gram's singing Partner in life and star in her own right. She brings an honesty to the production and hearing her familiar harmonies with other singers on Gram Standards lends a very authentic feel. The third reason is simply the recording quality. The sound on this CD is pure and clear. I found the others to be a little less so and muddy at times with the quality from track to track varying wildly. Not so here, each track shines on its own. I was very surprised by Emmylou and Beck's version of SIN CITY since it varied so greatly from Emmylou's earlier rendition on one of her own albums. This time she opts to sing an alto harmony. Very nice. As someone who collects all versions of SIN CITY, suffice it to say, I am a connosieur of this song and this version is one of the best I have heard. I now rank it my number two fave version after the original. My third fave version is Emmylou's original and my fourth is Dwight Yoakum and kd lang's. I could go on but I won't. Start here and you won't be sorry. This is a standout."
A tribute done with class!
Rizzo | Denver, CO | 02/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It was midnight and I stumbled upon a show called West 57th Sessions, from New York and unbeknown to me, what I was watching was a live performance of this tribute CD, "Return of the Grievious Angel." I managed to record the remaining 5 or 6 songs and hope to see it on video one day. With little familiarity to Gram Parsons, I was so taken by this tribute that was so well done, with fine musicians. Emmylou Harris, who sang with him before he died in the 70s so young, has kept his music alive and introduced him to new generations of music lovers. On the show, I was introduced to Beck, I thought to myself..."who is this guy who sounds like Parsons?" A favorite of mine, is Steve Earle and Chris Hillman on "High Fashion Queen. " The group consisted of Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Cowboy Junkies, Elvis Costello, Wilco, David Crosby, Whiskeytown, etc. How wonderfuls the tribute of "In My Hour of Darkness" by the Rolling Creekdrippers. Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow duet to "Juanita", the mixture of solid sweet voice of Crow and that soothing cracking voice of Emmylou blend so perfectly. If ever there is a presence of Gram Parsons, it is here! This is truly more that a tribute, it is as haunting as Gram Parson was, a young man who died too young, too hard! If you want to hear Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris duets, she has a 3 CD box set that features duets with Parsons, probably the best part of her CD collection. ....MzRizz"