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Various Artists: Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock, Vol. 5: 1972

Album Notes

On the fifth volume of the seven-part country-rock history Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock, Bear Family shines a spotlight on 1972. In this telling, 1972 stands out as an austere counterpart to the cracking 1971, a year heavy with kicking combos. Some groups do indeed show up here, but New Riders of the Purple Sage's lazy stroll through "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" indicates the pace of the proceedings: apart from Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks swinging through the speedy "Walkin' One and Only," this is one mellow year. Often, things turn quite introspective, too, with songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Chip Taylor, John Prine, Jonathan Edwards, and Kris Kristofferson emphasizing the lyricism that lies at the heart of a cowboy poet. Elsewhere, other singers strike the right balance between canny craft and amiable groove: J.J. Cale's original version of "After Midnight" shuffles slow and long, Bobby Charles gets funky on "Small Town Funk," and Rick Nelson captures the zeitgeist with "Garden Party." If this volume sometimes gets a little sleepy, that's fine: everybody can use a breather, particularly one as sweet and affecting as this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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