Influential doesn’t begin to capture the scope, legacy, and brilliance of Gram Parsons’ GP. By wedding traditional country threads with folk, soul, and rock fabrics, the singer/guitarist unconsciously gave birth to a new subgenre that would later evolve into what we now know as country-rock and Americana. Thematically, Parsons proves beyond his then 25-year-old age and addresses heartbreak, yearning, dreams, and wistful feelings with the lived-in conviction of someone many years his senior.
Mastered from the original master tapes, and going far beyond the multiple digital reissues that never opened up the music as promised, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered edition hybrid SACD brings to fore unprecedented degrees of fireplace-hearth warmth, natural organic accents, and the you-are-there vocal signatures of Parsons and partner Emmylou Harris.
Listeners that swear by the sound of albums cut in the 60s and early/mid 70s will instantly fall in love with what they hear: Every member of Parsons’ band gets their own distinct space, frequencies extend and decay, small details emerge, and that rare “breath of life” resounds throughout each note. If you’re a fan of the Byrds, Neil Young, CSN, or peak-era Bob Dylan, you need this SACD.
Akin to so many profoundly influential works of art,
GP had auspicious beginnings. Parsons spent 1971 palling around with Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who, originally, was tabbed to produce. But logistical circumstances ultimately led to putting Rik Grech in the control chair. He performed on and presided over sessions that witnessed Parsons redefine music via aching ballads, gospel-styled weepers, honky-tonk barn-burners, and rollicking shuffles. The chemistry achieved and attained throughout simply boggles the mind.
Whether it’s James Burton’s dobro or guitar playing, Elvis Presley drummer Ron Tutt keeping the beat, or Glen Hardin’s tuckpointed piano riffs, the combination of instruments and deliveries translate into Southern-flavored, California-stirred, desert-ripened magic. And those nuanced vocals. Restrained, plaintive, melodic, and almost effortless, Parsons and Harris' are often the sound of angels taking country and turning into white spirituals. They are also the sound of two hearts breaking and of souls being torn into two as a result of unrequited love and unyielding passion.
GP never cracked the Billboard album charts or yielded a hit single. But time has testified on behalf of its magnificence and importance. Parsons is now seen as the golden god of country rock, and for good reason. As for his goals? He once said that he wanted to unite the people in overalls (country) with those adorned in velvet (rock). Consider the mission accomplished.
GP is a temple that contemporary leaders such as Wilco, the Decemberists, the Jayhawks, and myriad others worship.
Gram Parson GP Track Listing:
1. "Still Feeling Blue" – 2:40
2. "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning" (Joyce Allsup) – 3:13
3. "A Song for You" – 4:58
4. "Streets of Baltimore" (Tompall Glaser, Harlan Howard) – 2:53
5. "She" (Parsons, Chris Ethridge) – 4:59
6. "That's All It Took" (Darrell Edwards, Charlotte Grier, George Jones) – 3:38
7. "The New Soft Shoe" – 3:54
8. "Kiss the Children" – 2:57
9. "Cry One More Time" (Peter Wolf, Seth Justman) – 3:38
10. "How Much I've Lied" (Parsons, David Rifkin) – 2:29
11. "Big Mouth Blues" – 3:52