Over a 55-year career that’s seen numerous name changes and a revolving door of personnel, the one thing that has stayed constant in The Flying Burrito Brothers’ chequered history has been their explosive stage show. By the time the band hit New York in 1976, only pedal steel guitarist/vocalist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow remained from the band’s original incarnation, but he’d surrounded himself with a stellar cast of musicians and an exceptionally hot night in the Big Apple was thankfully immortalised on tape. Recorded on 18th August, Live At The Bottom Line NYC 1976 captures The Brothers in all their toe-tapping, fiddle-frenzied glory and gets a loving issue via those groovy guys at Liberation Hall.
Although the band’s last few albums had received lukewarm reviews from the critics, The Flying Burrito Brothers were still a big draw on the live circuit and a tour promoting their fifth studio album, Airborne, found them selling out the 400 seat Bottom Line venue. In many ways the Burrito Brothers paved the way for the country rock boom of the mid-70s, but like most pioneers they got usurped by those who followed and refined their sound for mass consumption (i.e. The Eagles). However, perhaps attesting to their roots in the counterculture, The Burrito Brothers were never going to sit comfortable in the commercial sphere and there’s a nice subversive undercurrent bubbling beneath much of Live At The Bottom Line (such as their take on the pro-cocaine folk song ‘Take A Whiff On Me’).
Whatever your opinion of country rock, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the sheer effervescence of set opener ‘Hot Burrito Stomp’. Reminiscent of that infamous scene in Deliverance, ‘Hot Burrito Stomp’ features some fine duelling between Kleinow’s steel guitar and Gib Guilbeau’s fiddle, it’s a swirling maelstrom of high octane sounds and I defy anyone to sit still as it tumbles from the speakers (at least, anyone with a pulse). Things really click into place with the following ‘Hot Burrito #2’ (from 1969 debut The Gilded Palace Of Sin) and the band prove themselves a tight unit and, blessed with five strong vocalists the sound they create is rich and lustrous, and a feast for the ears.
From L.A. disco (‘Quiet Man’) to honky tonk (‘Dim Lights, Thick Smoke’) to Cajun (‘Diggy Diggy Lo’) The Flying Burrito Brothers flit between genres with apparent ease and you can almost feel the electricity which was undoubtedly crackling the air on that August evening. Each band member stamps their individual mark on proceedings with Skip Battin unleashing a few nifty bass runs and drummer Gene Parsons effortlessly mixing up rhythms (both Skip and Gene served time in The Byrds, further solidifying the Burrito’s chemistry). The set ebbs and flows perfectly and features a career-spanning selection, alongside a few choice covers and it’s a cover that concludes the set in suitably rousing style, with an amphetamine-charged bluesgrass version of Ervin T. Rouse’s ‘Orange Blossom Special’.
This is a hundred percent live offering and subsequently there is the occasional (albeit brief) drop in sound (such as at the beginning of ‘Quiet Man’) but this only adds to the live authenticity and if you want to experience The Flying Burrito Brothers in their prime, then Live At The Bottom Line is your ticket.
- Live At The Bottom Line NYC 1976 is released via Liberation Hall and is available now (from here).
- Hot Burrito Stomp
- Hot Burrito #2
- Quiet Man
- Dim Lights, Thick Smoke
- Diggy Diggy Lo
- Border Town
- Toe Tappin’ Music
- Waiting For Love To Begin
- Take A Whiff On Me
- Faded Love
- Close Up The Honky Tonks
- Truck Drivin’ Man
- Six Days On The Road
- Orange Blossom Special
I know all of these guys, past and present one still alive and producing.
Who is releasing this? Just curious.
A friend of the band.
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