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2023/4 Albums Thing 268 - Gram Parsons & The Fallen Angels “Live 1973”

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Following the release of “GP” Gram needed to tour his album. He assembled a band, The Fallen Angels, which included Emmylou Harris, pedal steel traditionalist Neil Flanz, drummer ND Smart II, bassist Kyle Tullis and guitarist Jock Bartley. Neil Flanz has said that the rehearsals, which were held at road manager Phil Kaufman's house were a disaster: "We weren't serious enough about the rehearsals. It was just wild. Everyone was playing music and having a good time but we weren't taking care of business". Kaufman said "We had a big party…We had a tour bus. Gram brought along Gretchen (his wife) and we left my house and went on our tour, and the tour was just disaster after disaster". It’s reported that it was only Emmylou Harris' determination that disciplined the band and ensured the shows even happened.

“Live 1973” was recorded in Long Island, New York on March 13, 1973 during a live radio broadcast for WLIR-FM but wasn’t released on record until 1982. It’s 12 songs include 6 from “GP” along with “Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man” which he’d recorded with The Byrds on “Sweetheart Of the Rodeo”, Boudleaux Bryant’s gorgeous “Love Hurts” which would appear on Gram’s next album “Grievous Angel”, some Country classics in Jim Shumate’s country/gospel “Country Baptizing”, Merle Haggard’s “California Cotton Fields”, the truck drivers anthem “Six Days On The Road” and they round the set out with a rock ’n’ roll medley !

As it is a radio broadcast it’s fairly well recorded and is a fantastic document of a period in Gram’s musical life that was thankfully captured. There are brief interactions between Gram, band, presenter and audience, band introductions etc. nothing earth shattering but an opportunity to briefly hear Gram speak. The show itself is a mostly gentle affair, although Gram is credited with being the first Country Rocker this show is far more country than rock. The duet between Gram and Emmylou on “The New Soft Shoe” is quite beautiful with great slide work by Neil Flanz. The unquestionable pearl on this album however is the take of “Love Hurts”, Gram and Emmylou at their duetting best with the band just leaning back and letting those two voices carry the load on a truly superb song.

This isn’t by any means where you should start if you decide to investigate the world of Gram Parsons (if you decide to do that Elvis Costello complied a best of simply titled “Gram Parsons” in 1982, hunt that down). It’s another of those records for the smitten completist of which I am unashamedly one when it comes to Gram. But if, like me, you catch the bug this is somewhere you will inevitably arrive.

Love Hurts - https://youtu.be/Tw-5dYVgUno?si=IcjyPiFW6yH_MQ_4

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