Friday, April 30, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, April 30-May 6: Poco, by Poco

I really don't listen to enough Poco. While I don't have a real "loyalty" thing for any one side of post-breakup-recombobulation bands, I do tend to go in one direction when there's a fork in the road, and following the Buffalo Springfield breakup my feet are pretty firmly on the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fork. When it comes to "country rock," my thru-line is Gram Parsons and his all-too-short Byrds / hanging out with and influencing the Stones / Flying Burrito Brothers / solo career.

But Poco (not their first album, that was Pickin' Up the Pieces), released on May 6, 1970, makes a good  case for paying more and closer continuing attention to them.

Sad side note: Poco guitarist / vocalist Rusty Young died of a heart attack two weeks ago.

I don't agree with Robert Christgau's characterization of the band as "[a]ll of CSNY's preciosity with none of the inspiration, all of bluegrass's ramifications with none of its roots." Maybe Christgau was just having a bad ear day, but I hear the inspiration and the roots in there.

Speaking of roots, I find the album's cover of "Honky Tonk Downstairs," first recorded by George Jones but written by Dallas Frazier (who also gave us, among other songs, "There Goes My Everything" and "Elvira"), more "rootsy." and just plain better, than Jones's version. Which is saying a lot. George Jones sat at the right hand of Hank Williams in my childhood household's country music shrine.

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