Poco “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

Poco came to fruition after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield. The late Buffalo Springfield masterpiece Kind of Woman (every bit the equal of Gram Parson’s Hickory Wind), written by Richie Furay, had already provided a template for Poco’s sound. Jim Messina (a late Buffalo Springfield addition) and Furay built a group around this new, emerging country-rock sound. The lineup that recorded the above debut was Richie Furay (guitar/vocals), Jim Messina (guitar/Vocals), Rusty Young (dobro/pedal steel/organ/vocals), Randy Meisner (bass/vocals) and George Grantham (drums/vocals).

Prior to the recording sessions Poco had worked on creating a live following, a clear vision, and a strong group identity. Song for song, this 1969 debut is one of the best buys in the country-rock genre. The playing is well above average, and because of the early release date and origins of this group, Poco’s importance was understood from the very beginning.

Many of these tracks are graced with beautiful hickory smoked harmonies and plenty of fine guitar playing. I have noticed that Poco is usually labeled as a good-time effort and while this is only partially true (due to the excellent Pickin’ Up The Pieces) there are plenty of country weepers and superb hard rockers. Tracks like Tomorrow and First Love capture the group in a reflective, mellow buzz mood and are highlighted by excellent lead vocals and great steel playing. Other stellar tracks like Short Changed and Calico Lady rock really hard and give the listener a solid dose of blistering fuzz guitar. The above mentioned Pickin’ Up The Pieces captures the genre’s essence and is one of the great country-rock classics. Another classic, Make Me Smile is one of the most heartbreaking love songs you’re likely to hear, with a great guitar oriented arrangement and plenty of unique twists and turns.

Poco had already developed into a first-rate group by the time of this recording, that’s a rare thing and it’s part of what makes these songs so great and fully realized. Also of note is the group’s strong, varied songwriting. Unlike many of their country-rock/country contemporaries Poco was able to deliver an album full of well written, fully formed originals. Poco would go on to record another 4 or 5 good albums but this is their finest and one of the seminal, early country-rock lps.

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“Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Sony | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl |1969 | Epic | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]

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  • JS

    I think one of the absolute most innovative tracks on that album is Calico Lady – the combination of the interlaced Harmonies over the the unique song arrangement are really pretty astounding. It makes it a truly unique tune – totally outside of the box.

  • dk

    I gotta say, this is an album that’s just been collecting dust in my collection. I think my Uncle gave it to me a few years back, and I’m not sure it has hit the turntable yet. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Thanks again, Jason. I’ve got the Best of Buffalo Springfield and was always interested in Poco’s beginnings. Randy Meisner is a great bass player.

  • I must admit, hearing this lovely music for the first time embarrasses me. It’s embarrassing because I’ve never heard of it. I do frequently find myself in the mood lately when only the smooth harmonies of America, CSNY, and Bread soothe my soul, but I’ve never looked beyond those two bands for the true heroes of the style (and no, there is no music of the Eagles played in my house).

    Damn you, American FM radio, for ignoring the good stuff.

    And then Jason blows my skies wide open with news of this charming little jewel of an album. I did not know such good country-rock had ever been recorded.

    Thank you, Internets, for showing me the good stuff.

  • Duncan Walls

    It was this, Big Pink, Sweetheart of The Rodeo, Steve Young Rock Salt & Nails Gilded Palace of Sin, The Beau Brummels, Everylys Roots b& 45s , Mason Profitt, Neil Young, Pan, Compton & Batteau and The Early Nesmith First National Band LPs that set the standard for my involvement with ‘country rock’…add in Prine, Goodman, JJWalker, PSeibel, Nitty GDB and a few strays here and there and you had a playlkist that lasted me years and took most of my friends ten years to catch up to…

  • I truly seem to go along with every aspect that has been put into writing in
    “Poco “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” 1969 | Rising Storm Review”.

    Thanks a lot for all of the actual info.Thanks for the post-Bryan

  • kroney

    It should be noted that Rusty Young never did and never has played organ. He is the master of all things stringed with the exception of fiddle.
    The organ sound that he pioneered was his pedal steel being run through a leslie speaker cabinet. An up date is in order.
    Thanks for an interesting site. FYI Poco just played their last show as a band last night. Rusty who was the last founding member has decided to retire the band and continue in a solo effort.

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