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Various - Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels Bundle - The Blissed-Out Birth Of Country Rock 1966-1975 (13-CD)

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Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock 1966-1975 - Volume 1-7... more

Various - Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: Bundle - The Blissed-Out Birth Of Country Rock 1966-1975 (13-CD)

Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels
The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock 1966-1975 - Volume 1-7

All CDs of the series at a special price!

Did it start in July 1954 when Elvis Presley applied his twitchy energy to Bill Monroe's regal bluegrass waltz, Blue Moon Of Kentucky? Or a couple of years later when Carl Perkins recorded Dixie Fried, deluding himself into thinking that northern pop stations would play it? Or was it 'Beatles For Sale' in 1964 or Rick Nelson's startling self-reinvention in 1966? Or the early International Submarine Band singles? Or the Byrds' Time Between or Old John Robertson?

Country Rock was quintessentially Californian while its forebear, Rockabilly, was quintessentially Southern, but both were reactions against then-prevailing music. Both seemed to prove Isaac Newton's third law of motion; that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every rockabilly single was a finger thrust in the face of smug, perfectly formed 1950s pop. Country Rock (or "longhair country" as the trade press called it) was a reaction against the self-absorption of psychedelia. In 1968 - the year Country Rock became a thing - Iron Butterfly released 'In-a-Gadda-da Vida.' The title song consumed one entire side of the LP, and, without drugs, it was unlistenable. Concurrently, there was a dematerializing back-to-the-land movement - an attempt to recapture any slice of Eden that hadn't been paved over.

Country Rock wasn't trying to supplant or reinvent Nashville. These were times as bitterly polarized as our own. Country music as it was made and played in Nashville every day derided hippies, just as hippies derided Nashville. True, a few subversives in Nashville reached out to the subculture, just as the Byrds famously tried to bridge the divide from the other side by playing the Grand Ole Opry, but the gulf was too deep. In the end, Gram Parsons' dream that country radio would sandwich his singles between George Jones and Loretta Lynn was no more than a dream. Country Rock was tailored to the newly minted underground FM rock format, not AM country.

By the mid-1970s, the rough edges in this music, harking back to hillbilly and rockabilly's unruly past, had become reduced to the Eagles' slick commercial equations. This CD and its companions tell the story of Country Rock from our arbitrarily assigned moment of its birth around 1966 until 1975. It's sequenced more or less chronologically so you can get a sense of the genre unfolding.

A final word: if a couple of your favorite tracks aren't here, there are several reasons. Perhaps we didn't know about them. Perhaps we didn't like them. Or, far more likely, the originating label wouldn't license to us.

Colin Escott

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TRUCKERS, KICKERS, COWBOY ANGELS The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock On January 12,... more
"Various - Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels"

TRUCKERS, KICKERS, COWBOY ANGELS

The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock

On January 12, 1970, 'Time' magazine placed The Band on its cover with the headline, 'The New Sound of Country Rock.' In the taxonomy of popular music, Country Rock was now a thing, a categoryby 1970. There were Country Rock browser bins in some stores, and trade magazines like 'Billboard'routinely classified records as country-rock or country/rock, expecting readers to know what they meant.

A category as vague and fissiparous as Country Rock can be defined narrowly or broadly. We've focused on rock musicians who embraced the concision, narrative drive, melodicism, and folk roots of country music, but we've also included a few country artists reaching out the other way. Rock musicians began trekking to Nashville after Bob Dylan began recording in Nashville in 1966, and they come still. Taking their cue from Dylan, a new breed of country songwriters, led by John Hartford, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson, began writing songs that dared to stray from the I-IV-V chord norm. A scene coalesced around them, attracting guys like Donnie Fritts, Billy Joe Shaver, and Tony Joe White. Before long, established country artists like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash began to think about not making records the way Nashville liked to make them. Whether from Nashville, Los Angeles, or someplace else, country rock was enough of a category by 1970 to attract artists who often understood neither country nor rock. We tried to avoid bandwagon jumpers, preferring those who brought an original spin to their music.

Licensing can be a problem with compilations like this. Artists as well-known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival were unavailable to us, alongside inexplicable denials like Rig. Some artists like Shiloh were on labels that have fallen into a contractual black hole. So if a recording that seems to belong here is missing, there's probably a clause in an aging contract explaining that. Even so, there's still plenty to love on the road to 1975.

 Colin Escott

 

 

"There was a shared sense of direction that was in tune with the times. The Band, the Byrds, Poco, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dylan were all exploring traditional music augmented by the power of rock 'n' roll. Psychedelia had had its moment and we were continuing to evolve what we believed to be the logical next step in American music."

(Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead) 

"The winds that were blowing moved us all along. We each had different approaches - different tacks and different sails in the wind - but we mostly headed the same direction, just because of the push. I had no notion of country rock as a possible genre, although we used the phrase among ourselves as First National Band members. This was more to frame up and focus a feeling of playing. We weren't conscious of this being innovative. It was fun to play like that, and there was plenty to say with it, and we enjoyed listening to it, to each other. I listened to all the bands at some point, but not until some time after the form was well under way. We were all immersed in playing it and giving it voice; we only slowly discovered each other over time. Ideas come along like this regularly that push everyone along. No one controls it; no one leads it. Certainly, no one invents it. It is the moment when the songs start to sing the singers, and not the other way round. Everyone who plays and sings knows this when it happens, and it is the most fun you can have playing music. Like flying in your dreams, effortlessly - and especially fun if you find someone up there with you. You wave and smile and acknowledge the forces at work."

(Michael Nesmith)

 

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