The Flying Burrito Brothers “Burrito Deluxe”
Taken as a whole, The Flying Burrito Brothers second album, Burrito Deluxe, is a mild disappointment when measured up against their legendary debut LP, The Gilded Palace of Sin. That record defined the country-rock genre and is still the yardstick by which all alternative country records are measured.
Burrito Deluxe was oringally released by A&M records in 1969. There are some good songs onboard, most notably mellow country-rockers “Cody, Cody” and “God’s Own Singer.” These are clearly the LP’s best numbers. Parsons and company even cover “Wild Horses” a few years before the Rolling Stones included it on their Sticky Fingers LP. On the surface Burrito Deluxe seems like a good enough follow-up to The Gilded Palace of Sin but further listening reveals some major flaws. For one, the songwriting is inconsistent: Burrito Deluxe yields no true classics on par with “Christine’s Tune,” “Hot Burrito #1,” or “Hot Burrito #2.” Parsons at this point was losing interest in the band he and Chris Hillman co-founded. Was Parsons spending too much time with Keith Richards or perhaps writing songs and preparing for his brief solo career? Aspects that made the Burrito’s debut so great, the fuzz guitars, those strong soul and country influences (what Parsons referred to as Cosmic American Music) and the unity in performance are missing. Instead the Burritos go for a harder rocking bar band sound as heard on tracks like Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go” and the Sweetheart era outtake “Lazy Days.” “Lazy Days” is professional songcraft, a decent enough number but the Dylan cover along with “Man In The Fog” is rather sloppy – this is not the Flying Burrito Brothers I know. Other tracks like “Image of Me”, “Farther Along” and “Older Guys” are respectable, gutsy country-rock efforts but again, nothing groundbreaking or classic.
So on a whole, this is a solid album for the country-rock genre, definitely better than what the average band was releasing back in the late 60s/early 70s. I’d go out on a limb and say that the Burrito’s self titled 3rd album and Last of the Red Hot Burritos (live) may be more consistent records – these records are without Gram Parsons too! Listening to Burrito Deluxe reminds us that Parsons’ head was elsewhere at the time. It feels as though the band is rushing through each number without any heart or true committment and because of this, Burrito Deluxe suffers from an unfocused sound. All complaints aside, Burrito Deluxe is still well worth a spin and an essential albeit baffling country-rock/Americana LP.