The "twangcore" and "Americana" boom of today owes a large debt to the shaggy twangers and no-hit wonders of yesteryear -- this section looks at the hippiebilly and stoner bands and a few odd, random artists from the 1960s, '70s and early '80s, back before there was anything called "alt-country." This page covers the letter "G."
One of the great lost albums of the 1970s! Lowell George was the lead singer of of the roots-rock/funk superband, Little Feat (see below)... On this solo outing, he let go of Little Feat's rougher edges, in favor of a mellower, more conventionally "pop" sound. The album covers blues, country and soulful rock -- plus, it's jam-packed with greay songs. My favorites include the mariachi-flavored "Cheek To Cheek," his versions of Rickie Lee Jones' "Easy Money," and the old Ann Peebles soul ballad, "I Can't Stand The Rain," as well as a great remake of the Little Feat classic, "Two Trains..." Heck, the whole album is great. Also includes a couple of mournful acoustic numbers that are some of the most melancholy tunes I know: "20 Million Things To Do" and "Find A River." I'm happy to report that this record is back in print at last... You should really snap this one up!
Jimmie Dale Gilmore - see artist discography
A top-notch retrospective of this lower-rung '60s/'70s Nashville act... The Glasers came to Music City under the auspices of Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash... They sang backup on stage and in the studio for various artists before getting a shot at a 'solo' career in '66. They did alright, sneaking into the Top 30 with fair regularity, starting off as a folk-country trio, and gradually edging into a more classic style. Then Tompall, the group's driving creative force, started getting a little bit weird, pioneering, in fact, the rebellious "outlaw" sound that Waylon & Willie & The Boys took to the bank later in the decade... This disc has got it all, from their soft-edged Nashville singles to their early '70s forays into an increasingly rough'n'tumble style. Notable here is their cover version of John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind," a song that the Glasers invested in when they set up their own publishing house... When Glen Campbell took the tune to the top of the charts, the Glaser's struck gold, and then turned around to invest their profits in a recording studio, and it was the relaxed, rowdy atmosphere at "Hillbilly Central" that served as the incubation chamber for the young, druggie rebels that were challenging the conservatism of the Nashville establishment. You can hear the upside and the down of this new freedom: Tompall's rowdy, raunchy "Put Another Log On The Fire (The Male Chauvinist's National Anthem)" and the scary "Texas Law Sez" were early outlaw high points -- these are accompanied here by decidely lesser recordings, such as his drunken versions of "T For Texas" and "The Wild Side Of Life," which are a nice nod to tradition, but a little sad to listen to now. All in all, though, a great collection, revealing an important missing link between the old Nashville Sound and the new vigorousness that the freaks brought into the mix. Plus, there's thankfully very little overlap between this disc and the Bear Family collection reviewed below...
What, exactly, constitutes an "outlaw" country record? A willingness to get drunk and/or stoned while recording, or a devotion to old-fashioned hillbilly tunes, when the rest of Nashville is going pop? In the 1970s, Tompall Glaser of the Glaser Brothers, possessed of modest vocal talent but a long track record as a sideman and a flash of stardom early in the decade, set up shop with his own production studio, Hillbilly Central, and played host to Waylon and Willie and the boys, and puffed a few as he recorded an album or two of his own. The thump of the bass is there, but for the most his perfromances on these songs are a bit lackluster; a pity, since there's some really interesting material to be heard, songs by Bill Chapell, Mickey Newbury, Jesse Colter and Bobby Charles, and other semi-marginal figures. An interesting footnote to both Glaser's commercial career and to the '70s "outlaw" scene, but ultimately -- as Glaser himself says in the liner notes -- not music you'd go back and listen to often. (Ironic note: Jimmy Bowen, who helped sculpt the sound of country pop in the '80s, came in to produce Glaser's first solo album on the ABC label, in 1977 -- one of Bowen's first big gigs in Nashville! )
A welcome reissue of two long out-of-print albums, 1981's Lovin' Her Was Easier and After All These Years, from 1982 -- the last two albums from this on again/off again brother act. In the late 1960s, the Glaser Brothers emerged out from the shadows of their various benefactors -- Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash -- and became a reasonably successful working band. Things fragmented in the early 'Seventies and each brother went his own way, with Tompall Glaser becoming an icon of the shambling "outlaw" country scene. These records came out after years of individually muddling along, until finally the time seemed right for the trio to reunite. Their version of Kris Kristofferson's "Lovin' Her Was Easier" was a surprise hit in '81, and led to the group's first full album in nearly a decade. It's a nice record, filled with covers of numerous old country standards, songs like "Busted," "Mansion On A Hill," a cover of Tom Paxton's "Last Thing On My Mind," and a tune or two from Tompall's solo years. Shorn of the outlaw posturing and the countrypolitan pretense of their earlier work, the Glasers delivered a nice, low-key set of straightforward country ballads -- and Tompall's vocal likeness to his onetime boss, Marty Robbins, was never more apparent. The followup record was the group's swansong -- it barely dented the charts, and they went splitsville again not long after it came out. But it's a nice record, too, of a piece with the first, even though the songs were of a more recent vintage. This disc is certainly worth checking out if you like country harmony songing, and songs sung simply and straight from the heart -- not the greatest stuff ever, but still pretty darn nice.
Goose Creek Symphony "Est. 1970" (Capitol, 1970)
This longhaired Arizona ensemble started off with a wild mix of goofy country clompers, disjointed hillbilly psychedelia, old country gospel numbers, and plenty of good, old-fashioned '70s style boogie rock. Their debut album is pretty cool -- veering off in various directions, with gems in all the categories mentioned above, and many songs that creep through the stylistic margins. A weird, but relatively cohesive record that is pleasantly emblematic of its times. Experimental, eclectic and filled with chaotic good humor and energy -- definitely worth checking out!
Goose Creek Symphony "Welcome To Goose Creek" (Capitol, 1971)
Unfortunately on their second album, the band chose to pass their country side off as a Hee-Haw-ish hick-hoedown joke, hamming it up on all the overtly hillbilly tunes, while concentrating their "serious" efforts on the more acid-laced rock numbers and feedbacky guitars. Still an interesting, eclectic album, but it's sad that the country stuff simply doesn't hold up. After a while they settle into a smooth groove that sounds an awful lot like Garth and Rick and Levon and all the boys from The Band.
Goose Creek Symphony "Words Of Earnest" (Capitol, 1972)
Perhaps their best album, this shows a much-welcome slide back into a more heartfelt country mode, an increased affinity to rootsy sound of The Band, more coherent attempts at serious psychedelicized songwriting, and some goofy stuff to balance it out, including a cover of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" and several druggy celebrations which make explicit mention of all the tokes, hits and trips it took to get this album together. Interesting cultural artifact and a pretty good record, to boot! Recommended.
After making a bundle on his Top-40 pop hit, "Spirit In The Sky," Greenbaum tuned in and dropped out, investing his cash in a chicken farm out in Petaluma, California (which at the time was way out in the boonies...) The quiet life agreed with him, and this goofy little album is one of the hidden gems from the early '70s, featuring some nice assist by Ry Cooder on mandolin and guitar. The title track is great, along with the other enchanting ditties on here.
David Grisman -- see artist profile
Hick Music Index