I’ve explained somewhere here sometime ago that my own organic journey through the sonic worlds is unapologetic in its forty year attempt to square Flatt and Scruggs with John Coltrane. These exemplar/examples are but two of the ways I can stretch the dichotomy. Noting this, on the right side will always float country air. This has ratified some biases too, because my tastes tend to put a premium on the instrument rather than the letter, and to prize naivete over bombast.
The other aspect is simply finding the first sonic grades in the school of hippie psych and cowpone. So, for example, I can dig (Untitled) and The Guilded Palace of Sin endlessly. If you miss the reference, its way too late. On the other side is a bigger subject, a subject for another post–enough to say on the left hand are the rivers of Duke and Monk.
So, it is, turning back to the folky right, that I keep an ear out for those retiring, dimming hippie folk country vibes. As it happened a very long time ago, on May 14, 1970, I ventured with a much straighter object of affection and some long-haired friends down to Public Hall to see a typical, weird, 1970 bill: John Mayall, Poco, setting up, of all possibilities, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. So: lucid appropriation; naivete; and, ear splitting bombast.
It was all good, yet I came for the ebullient middle set of Poco. The band, formed by Richie Furay and Jim Messina, ex-Buffalo Springfield, was–I’d argue–the most earnest country rock outfit of that era. This quality of sincerity would be snuffed as genre convention not more than five years later given the drug-fueled excesses of much more successful ensuant country rockers. (I’m thinking of one band in particular.) Poco would labor on through the decadent seventies and longer too. But, 1970-1971 was their true ‘hayday’.
[audio:http://nogutsnoglorystudios.squareone-learning.com/music/02-You Better Think Twice.mp3|titles=Poco-You Better Think Twice]
You Better Think Twice (Poco/Poco 1970)
Anyway. . .I was set up in more ways than one for maximum enjoyment. For one thing my mentor the amazing Dynamo Man had helped me to leverage Flatt and Scruggs and Moby Grape so as to appreciate Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young, The Byrds, The Band, and, The Flying Burrito Brothers. I had seen The Byrds (and Clarence White) kick down a gym the previous fall. And, I had gotten down into the grooves of Poco‘s excellent first two records. The result remains etched: Poco-Public Hall-May 1970, remains ensconced in the roster of the ten best rock shows I ever sunk my ears into.
The spring tour later evoked live Deliverin’, their third and best record. It almost captures the ebullient gift I witnessed. A few months later lead guitarist Jim Messina was gone and Paul Cotton was in. Cotton’s thicker guitar sound helped take the band in a slightly harder direction. CBS Records sponsored a showcase before a small audience of friends and industry type at the end of September 1971. The tapes have surfaced 39 years later. Poco, live at Columbia Studios, 9/30/71, is a good one. The new, very old recording, is just as earnest and upbeat as the classic Deliverin’. The recording itself is vintage; the ol’ 8 into 4 into 2 track gains separation and looses a bit in the ambiance the Felt Forum provided for the spring date. Always a highlight was Rusty Young’s innovative, at times startling, pedal steel work.
Then there’s the context, because as much as Americana and countrified folk rock came back to the table and has remained there for two decades, the fact is by the end of the seventies the earnest originators had been sent to the far margins.
Still, it was a good feelin’ to know and this archival set is a stirring gem.
Here’s a chunk of latinized rock, pulled from a bootleg of a gig at Duke U. five days before the CBS Studios set. . . okay, mild bombast too but with some of the most psychedelicious steel work ever by Mr. Young.[audio:http://nogutsnoglorystudios.squareone-learning.com/music/012-El Tonto De Nade Regresa.mp3|titles=Poco-012-El Tonto De Nade Regresa]
(Richie Furay put out a excellent record last year, Alive.)
interview with Rusty Young, unknown date (1990-ish?)