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Various Artists: Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock, Vol. 6: 1973

Album Notes

Kicking off with Doug Sahm's song about his hometown -- a wild, rangy "(Is Anybody Going To) San Antone" -- this sixth volume of Bear Family's ongoing country-rock history Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock is immediately livelier than its singer/songwriter predecessor. Some of those cowboy poets of 1972 show up again here in 1973 -- Townes Van Zandt is deservedly inescapable; his standard "Pancho & Lefty" arrives in the first five songs -- but there are more bands here, including the wildly funky Little Feat and open-road rebels the Allman Brothers Band, two bands that are just marginally country-rock. This is an indication of how things were changing in country-rock in 1973, how rockers were treating country as just one of their roots, but the bigger story is the rise of the backwoods funk and long-haired hippie outlaws. Doug Sahm is at the forefront of that movement (he's also heard toward the end with the anthem "Texas Tornado") and so is his Austin cohort Willie Nelson, joined by Billy Joe Shaver (and Bobby Bare singing Billy Joe), Hoyt Axton, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Jim Ford. Alongside these redneck renegades are the rocking Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the woolly Western swing revivalists Asleep at the Wheel, and the Earl Scruggs Revue singing Shel Silverstein's dirty jokes. Times were changing, to be sure, and what was happening was the crystallization of what we'd later know to be country-rock and roots rock, so in addition to being terrifically entertaining, this is instructive as well. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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