A great way to get a feeling for a band who can be credited with doing more than most...
Harry Holgate 2007
Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen were born out of the University of Michigan campus party scene in the late 1960’s and went through a few line up changes before they released their first studio album, Lost in the Ozone, in 1970. All through their several-years long genesis they were first choice to play at all sorts of happenings and be-ins and their style of music, while grounded in country and rock-a-billy, has always been informed by that party sensibility and they tend to play whatever sounded good including swing and rhythm and blues. Their live sets became famously lengthy affairs and the band could have thirty or more people on stage at once, keeping the party going when other bands would have melted away.
This double album brings together two live sets from what, despite a change or two between the two gigs, could be termed the band’s classic line-up. The first disk is a rattling 12 song set live at the Armadillo World Headquarters venue in Austin, Texas, propped up by five more bonus tracks. The second disk is from two years down the line and runs to a storming 25 songs, a rapid tour of the band’s three albums up until that date, along with some special covers and treats for the live audience.
The Armadillo recording opens with just one of those treats, a rollocking country-tinged rendition of Elvis’ "Blue Suede Shoes" before moving through truck-driving country favourites "Down and Out", "Ain’t Nothing Shakin But The Leaves On The Trees" and, of course, "Truck Driving Man". Other highlights include the fantastic boogie-woogie country "Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar" and the group’s biggest hit to that date "Hot Rod Lincoln".
The Capitol Theatre recording comes straight in with the unashamedly down-home "Cajun Rag" and heads in to pure freak power territory with the brilliant "Everybody’s Doing It" and "Down To Seeds And Stems". The recorded set runs to nearly eighty minutes but is just a fraction of the mammoth runs they were known for putting in and never loses pace or focus, no matter how many detours into different styles the band takes. Those who ever saw them live will attest that a recording can never do justice to the great sprawling jamborees the band put on but this album is a great way to get a feeling for a band who can be credited with doing more than most to create the genre we now call Americana.