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2023 Albums Thing 149 - Emmylou Harris “Elite Hotel”

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Just 10 months after “Pieces Of The Sky” out came its follow up “Elite Hotel”. The formula remains the same (this is Country music so yes there’s a formula. If you’re after the new or innovative then go look elsewhere) although Emmylou was mixing Rock with her Country.

Again we have the stellar studio musicians now known as Emmylou’s Hot Band (James Burton and Rodney Crowell (guitar), Glen D. Hardin (piano), Emory Gordy Jr. (bass), Hank DeVito (steel guitar), John Ware (drums)), plus guests like Bernie Leadon and Linda Ronstadt). In fact when Esquire magazine published a feature about her and failed to mention the Hot Band at all Emmylou took out an ad in a trade publication to chastise the magazine !

Emmylou is still writing with Rodney Crowell (the opening “Amarillo” being a highlight) and we have the country classics (Buck Owens “Together Again” (which led to an invitation to duet with Buck Owens) and Hank Williams “Jambalaya”), The Beatles make a return (“Here There And Everywhere” bought rumblings of discontent from Country purists but has long been hailed as one of the great covers of The Beatles) and the spirit of Gram Parsons still walks the halls of this Hotel.

This time instead of writing about Gram, Emmylou sings his songs, 3 of them, almost making “Elite Hotel” a Gram Parsons tribute album. Interestingly 2 are songs we’ve covered here before, “Sin City” and “Wheels”, both coming from the Flying Burrito Brothers album “The Gilded Palace Of Sin”. The third is “Ooh Las Vegas” from Gram’s 2nd solo album (which Emmylou also featured on) “Grievous Angel”, a song which could be “Sin City” part 2.

“Sin City”, with its metaphor of Las Vegas representing life in general, is taken at the same sedate pace as the original, Emmylou’s voice soars in places. “Ooh Las Vegas” (or just “Las Vegas” as Gram had it) is a rollicking barnstormer, as it should be, a gamblers life on the strip set to music

“Well, I spend all night with the dealer, Tryin' to get ahead

Spend all day at the Holiday Inn, Just trying to get out of bed”

“Wheels” closes things out perfectly “Come on wheels take this boy away”. On the whole “Elite Hotel” is a solid follow up to “Pieces Of the Sky”. The inclusion of three of Gram’s songs and of course Ms Harris’ beautiful voice make it more than worth my time.

Ooh Las Vegas - https://youtu.be/ANcF-PUNL4o

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