The Burrito Brothers – Together


With their seeds first sown in 1968, The Burrito Brothers have a long and convoluted history with highs and lows characterised by triumph and tragedy, and a band history could fill a weighty tome. However, this current incarnation of the band are keeping their freak flag flying high and releasing albums that honour their past whilst looking to the future. With the recent passing of guitarist Bob Hatter, that is exactly what new album Together does, paying fine tribute to a falling comrade, and boldly taking their sound forwards.

Attesting to a sense of urgency, The Burrito Brothers don’t waste any time on extraneous, elongated introductions and get straight down to business with opening salvo ‘Ms. Misery’. Chris P. James’ vocals hit the listener like a soothing balm and come encased in a blanket of sublime slide guitar and persuasive percussion. It takes a familiar trick of marrying an upbeat tune to downbeat lyricism, and the result pulls you in two different directions (not unlike an illicit tryst). A well-known juxtaposition it might be, yet it has rarely been done with same panache as the Brothers display here and proves ‘Ms. Misery’ anything but a pessimist. On another tangent (a move which typifies this album) ‘Mr Customs Man’ radiates good vibes, and you can almost feel the joy bursting from your speakers as the band deliver an abject lesson in country rock. Throwing a few lines of Alice Cooper’s ‘The Ballad of Dwight Fry’ into the song’s finale makes it both familiar and strange, and never has a song about petty officialdom sounded so exciting.

If ever a band was tethered to a locale by their sound, then it is surely The Burrito Brothers. The perfect accompaniment to a long road trip, Together is a very emotive, intimate record, and it often feels as if the band are singing directly to you. Cuts such as ‘I Find Love’, ‘Let Go’, along with the majestic title-track, conjure up images of vast bruised coloured skies hanging over a warm, sun-kissed desert, and that’s precisely the images these songs should plant in your mind’s eye. However, the band know exactly how to make an album flow, and after a selection of mid-paced numbers, ‘Boiling Point’ injects a dose of adrenaline and raises the temperature a few degrees, ensuring that Together seems to breathe, as it ululates between rockers and ballads. An epic track to bring the album to a fitting conclusion, ‘History Suite’ collects a selection of seven songs and segues them in a series that recalls the progressive nature of the aforementioned Alice Cooper Band. It is a finale that pulls all the various strands of the album into a cohesive whole, and suggests this ending is merely another beginning.

In our current age of fragmentation, what we need more than ever is art and music that heals and, doing exactly what the title suggests, that’s precisely what Together does.

Track List:

  1. Ms. Misery
  2. Mr. Customs Man
  3. Together
  4. I Find Love
  5. Let Go
  6. Blood On His Hands
  7. Boiling Point
  8. Streets Of Santa Rosa
  9. I Live For Loving You
  10. History Suite:a. Rhapsody

    b. Abstract Collage

    c. History

    d. Keep On Movin’

    e. I Just Love My Baby

    f. History (Reprise)

    g. Goodbye