Flying Burrito Brothers Sin City Review

Live. Released 2006.  

BBC Review

It's a certainty that this album represents the sweetest, warmest, most genuine...

Chris Jones 2002

Afficionados will grumble that Sin City is just the umpteenth re-packaging of the first two Flying Burrito Brothers' albums that anyone with any taste will already own. Well true enough, but some things are SO good you just have to keep telling people. It's that important. So buckle up, because we're on the hyperbole train to superlative city again. There are numerous contenders for the first country rock album. John Wesley Harding? Yes, of course. The Basement Tapes? Why not? Even Michael Nesmith's Wichita Train Whistle Sings. The fact remains that none of these were as perfect as what would follow. By the time Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman had made the Byrds Sweetheart Of The Rodeo the Flying Burrito Brothers weren't a possibility; they were a certainty. It's also a certainty that this album represents the sweetest, warmest, most genuine expression of the love that white, middle class kids had for Nashville.

The first album, The Gilded Palace Of Sin is as close to perfection as Parsons would ever get. But the maturity and calm that pervades the music isn't entirely down to this wayward legend. Wine, women and grade A narcotics had already begun to lure the lost rich kid. It's Chris Hillman's maturer presence that sets the pace and allows it all to sound so fresh, yet traditional. It took vast courage to follow Parsons in quitting the Byrds for a deeper journey into country than Sweetheart, and his contribution has long been undervalued. But all of these Burritos were hot. 'Sneaky' Pete Kleinow's pedal steel gleams throughout, making ''Christine's Tune'' a contender for the best album opener of all time. You can lose yourself in Parsons' melting take on ''Do Right Woman'' (with not a lyric changed) and it becomes obvious how much of a debt the Stones owed to the faux-redneck jive of ''Hippie Boy''.

The second album, Burrito Deluxe (here unfortunately shorn of its tip-top Mexican intro) was handicapped by the opiated haze beleaguering Parsons. Yet gems still abound such as ''Lazy Days'' and the first version of Jagger and Richards' ''Wild Horses'' to be released. With extra rarities such as ''The Train Song'' and ''Six Days On The Road'', this about rounds up the greatest (and briefest) era of country rock. Gram, for all his demons and limitations, knew the true value of southern music when he declared the sound of the Burrito's heirs; the Eagles, to be ''bubblegum''. No one would do it like this again. This was perhaps the only band which could bring such a poetic perspective to bear on the rapidly decaying LA scene. Parsons has passed into legend but all involved deserve some kind of monument to mark the very special music contained here.

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