Bear Family Records have released the first two volumes in what promises to be a seven CD series of reissues of the music known and loved as ‘country rock’ – the music that turned a¬†generation of late 1960s hippies into George Jones and Louvin Brothers fans.
Dubbed the ‘blissed out birth of country rock’ Volume One is a double CD set, profusely illustrated (as all Bear Family sets are) and covers the years 1966 through to 1968.
The second volume is a single CD covering 1969.
The first volume starts¬†with Gram Parsons fronting the International Submarine Band from 1966 – the band that pioneered¬†the genre – according to many fans. Thats because Parsons who was the front man of the ISB¬†eventually joined The Byrds and took them further into country music with ‘Sweetheart of The Rodeo’. Parsons was a big fan of Bakersfield honky tonk music – as played by Buck Owens and others – and he melded that sound with that of¬†Nashville and West Coast rock.
The Byrds became the premier exponents of country rock following the release¬†of¬†‘Sweetheart Of The Rodeo’ – but there were many other Los Angeles and West Coast artists who had latched onto to the more mellow, laid back sounds of country rock.
The Dillards were already a top class bluegrass outfit who had a hippie following; ex-Byrd Gene Clark had teamed up with The Gosdin Brothers (Vern and Rex) and Doug Dillard to cut the ‘Fantastic Expedition of Dillard And Clark’, the Lovin’ Spoonful had praised Nashville Cats (albeit wrongly referring to Sun Records being based in Music City), The Youngbloods and others developed the genre.
On the first volume there are sides by The Beau Brummells, Bobbie Gentry, the Everley Brothers whose music could be traced back to the high and lonesome sound of The Louvin Brothers, Bob Dylan who had gone full on country with ‘Nashville Skyline’, The Band who had a wide repertoire of old time country music and The Monkees – don’t be put off this is Mike Nesmith doing his own thing. he later went onto to record some of the best country rock music of the 1970s.
The second set features The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Bob Dylan, Glenn Campbell, (now a recognised guitar genius), Poco, Linda Ronstatdt, Doug Sham, who had been playing cajun, Tex Mex and honky tonk music since the early 1960s, Buck Owens and Elvis (a cover of Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’).
Five more volumes are promised (as with all BF series count on this to¬†happen!) featuring double CDs from 1970; 1971; 1972; 1973 and 1974 – 1975.
Anyone who recalls the Warners set ‘Are You Ready For The Country’ (along with Peter Doggett’s book of the same title issued in 2001) – will know what to expect!
For fans of country rock this series promises to be an essential purchase.