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Gram Parsons - The Early Years, Vol. 1 and 2

  by Jon Rogers

published: 7 / 5 / 2014

Gram Parsons - The Early Years, Vol. 1 and 2
Label: Floating World Records
Format: CD


Unessential retrospective of early recordings, some unreleased, from the late Gram Parsons, which will prove of interest to his devoted fan base only

Cecil Ingram Connor III (aka Gram Parsons') place in musical history in assured thanks to his recordings with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers and his self-styled "cosmic American music". Never mind his association with the Rolling Stones and in particular Keith Richards. These 'Early Years' recordings - the first 'volume' already having been released in 1979 - go right back to Parsons' very early, tentative musical fledgling years before the International Submarine Band and even before he attended Harvard University to study theology (where he only lasted a term). Effectively, 'Volume 1' can be easily skipped over, having already seen the light of day which documents Parsons' recordings with the Shilos. There is nothing particularly startling amongst these ten recordings with some original songs mixed in with the inevitable covers like Pete Seeger's 'Bells of Rhymney'. While certainly of historical interest to fans of Parsons and musicologists alike,there's not really a great deal there to get too excited about for the more casual fan of Parsons' work and wants to dig a little deeper than the more obvious recordings. The album then switches up a gear for 'Volume 2',and includes several previously unreleased songs recorded by Dick Weissman which were recorded in New York in September 1965. Along with those there are two recordings Parsons made with the band Parsons formed in the autumn of '65 after he had moved to Harvard. The real gems though are the couple of recordings at the end that Parsons' did with his friend, the child actor Brandon deWilde who would eventually have hs life cut short in a traffic accident. Up first, after a patchy take on Buck Owens' 'Together Again' is a run through of 'Do Right Woman' followed by an early version of 'Hickory Wind'. Those though are really the only songs of note in an otherwise rather non-descript album that, other than the Parsons' involvement, really constitute songs that would really be consigned to the dustbin of history. While certainly of interest to the devoted Parsons' fans, to the wider world there's little here other than the tentative signs of what was to come and a few dog-eared documents showing his teenage development from a solid interest in folk music to a growing love of country music - and of course, his blending of the two forms. Devoted fans will no doubt be drooling at the mouth for these further insights into the early musical dabbling of Parsons but there is not much here of great interest for the wider listener.

Track Listing:-
1 I May Be Right
2 Big Country
3 Zah's Blues
4 Mary Don't You Weep
5 Bells Of Rhymney
6 Goin' Away, Don't You Wanta Go
7 They Still Go Down
8 On My Journey Home
9 Surfinanny
10 Oh, Didn't They Crucify My Lord
11 The Great Silke
12 Race With The Wind
13 The Rains Come Down
14 Hand Within The Glove
15 Rolling Stone
16 Darkest Years
17 That Kind Of Lovin'
18 A River Is Made Out Of Raindrops
19 Just Can't Take It Any More
20 November Nights
21 Together Again
22 Do Right Woman
23 Hickory Wind

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