The Flatlanders “More a Legend Than a Band”

More A Legend Than A Band

This became my favorite new record in under a full day. Normally, we are looking at albums that we’ve sat with, kinda know inside out, but this is an emergency. It’s been an evil secret that nobody told me about this one sooner.

Originally released in 1972, and only available on 8-track cassette until 1990, when it was finally put out on CD- just in time for the alt-country kids to scoop it up- this is a perfect country album. If you’ve ever detected a note of irony when the Byrds put their cowboy hearts on for Sweetheart, this is the record to set you straight. The real deal (and you know because it’s on Rounder).

It’s hard to describe what it is about the sweet spot this record hits, but here’s a shot: The Flatlanders match an electric sound with acoustic, bluegrass instrumentation (sans banjo). They play in an old-timey (lazy fiddle) way with a swing in their step, and add a nice psych touch with the musical saw (imagine a tasteful theremin adding hints of accompaniment on about half the record). Jimmie Dale’s singing is A+ number one and the harmony is also great. Oh and listen to that fine dobro work on Stars In My Life.

Or look at it this way: 13 great new songs to love, a beautiful forgotten classic for your shelves, and a serious contender for Sweetheart of the Rodeo’s coveted country-rock trophy spot. Yes, it’s the newest record in my collection, but I think I would grab for it first on my way to the island.

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“Jole Blon”

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