The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Guilded Palace of Sin

The Gilded Palace of Sin isn’t strictly a country rock record. But when Parsons chose to mix the country with whatever else, he did it so well that it drew the ire of the Nashville establishment who felt that Parson’s music was a stain on the wholesomeness of pure country music. A sort of hippie invasion, if you will. Looking back, it’s funny to think about. Not only Nashville’s revulsion at Parson as an unsavory character—because there were no unsavory characters in country music—but also because country rock and country pop now dominate a large section of the consumer music market. That sort of genre blending, the country aesthetic mixed with dance beats or rock riffs, is a flower off the tree of Parson’s Cosmic American Music. Although I’m not so sure he would be happy with the dumb-downed legacy that is the current state of country music. American it is. Cosmic it is not.
Counterbalance No. 153: Flying Burrito Brothers’ ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

The Guilded Palace of Sin remains for me, after forty-six years, one of my favorite pop records of all time, certainly in the top five.

I put the following compact disc in my car player and listened to it twice.

fbb

The hook for me, once again, was Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s pedal steel magic. His playing reinforces my own sense that The Burrito Brothers were a psychedelic country band, with Sneaky’s shapeshifting steel fronting the lead guitar aesthetic with its leaps between swirly chorus-effect and bandsaw fuzz.

Plus, marvels of lip-synch and stand-up pedal steel.
https://youtu.be/WCgxmc6gcOA

Sneaky Pete also anchored The Flying Burrito Brothers on tour.

https://youtu.be/ZTYIMtHk4H4
Calgary, August 1970

There are some fine audio-only concerts from 1970 on youtube.


Seattle Pop Festival – July 27, 1969


December 6, 1970 – Lyceum Ballroom – London, England

Burrito Blast

flyingburritobrothers1970

Flying Burrito Brothers Live at Fillmore East 1970, (released this year.) Chris Hillman, years after the night captured on this energetic new addition to the Flying Burrito Brothers discography:

Sneaky Pete’s steel guitar shines throughout and may be his best performance on record.

What happened to The Flying Burrito Brothers the next year, 1971, ushered in twenty-five years of what I would term, fractal dynamics, as different configurations of players, constituting a kind of shifty strange attractor, bubbled up and out and up again, all around either the original ‘brand,’ The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Burrito Brothers, and, finally, Burrito Deluxe. Pedal steel icon Sneaky Pete left the band late in 1971, only to find a new attractor three years later, as the band rose once again after all but disbanding a few months and a European tour after another shuffle of personal followed in the aftermath of Chris Hillman, Michael Clark, and Bernie Leadon all moving on to greener pastures.

Sneaky Pete remained not quite the central constant in the midst of various permutations, with each at least securing the ‘Burrito’ part of the band’s name. Yet, the result is that there is a lot of Sneaky etched on legitimate and illicit recordings strung between 1974 and Sneaky’s last recordings, released in 2009 with Burrito Deluxe.

Although there was a certain measure of cynicism likely in the motivation for some of these configurations, and, each of the studio recordings are dragged down to different degrees by mediocre material and, at times, too much obedience to the commercial trends (in country music) of their day, there is also a lot of terrific Sneaky Pete steel guitar on display. Other moments of grace are supplied by musical evidence that supports just how much the shape-shifting cast of characters enjoyed playing with each other. Amongst the likes of talented and heart-felt players such as John Beland, Joel Scott Hill, Gib Gilbeau, Kleinow was the only first tier player, yet under the different variations of ‘Burrito’ the various crews kept their ‘Bakersfield sound’ inflected California country rock going against, really, the odds.

Of course Chris Hillman wasn’t onboard for the ensuing messy history, so he didn’t get to hear the ace steelman do his thing on many a long lonely night. Sentimentally, I will always feel Sneaky’s amazing essays on The Guilded Palace of Sin are not only his best work on record, but represent a pedal steel guitar-driven country rock moment second to none. Still, especially in the various Burrito ensembles of the eighties, there exist a plenitude of recorded and stunning Sneaky moments. This was especially the case throughout the eighties. (I will offer up a mix in a later post.)

Here’s 30 minutes worth of the Sneaky Pete, with five tracks taken from two albums, Suite Steel, and Pacific Steel, that featured his playing along with other virtuoso players.

1 Flying Burrito Brothers::Star Of The Show 4:10
2 Sneaky Pete Kleinow::Splittin’ Image 1:58
3 Flying Burrito Brothers::Did You See 2:58
4 Sneaky Pete Kleinow::Medley: My Back Pages, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Wheels 3:55
5 Sneaky Pete Kleinow::It Makes No Difference 5:07
6 Sneaky Pete Kleinow::Blackbird 2:06
7 Sneaky Pete Kleinow::Cannonball Rag 2:25
8 Flying Burrito Brothers::Hot Burrito #2 4:38

[removed]

h/t Tim Connors offers up a capsule history of all permutations Burrito on his essential web resource about all things The Byrds.