Audio Remasterers: Elysian Masters; Dave Cooley.
Liner Note Authors: Lee Hazlewood; Hunter Lea.
Recording information: United Recorders, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Gary Lappier.
Arranger: Billy Strange.
Lee Hazlewood's second album for MGM had something of a split personality, though both sides were an accurate depiction of various sides of his musical mind. Released in 1967, Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure opens with five story-songs, most of which are dramatic narratives in which Hazlewood speaks rather than sings, spinning tales of brave but kind-hearted matadors, pioneer women in love with Indian braves, and old men strumming away their stories. Hazlewood approaches his recitations with all the seriousness he can muster, while Billy Strange's arrangements provide elaborate but understated accompaniment, suggesting a film score that doesn't drown out the dialogue in the big scenes. Elsewhere, the album's second half finds Hazlewood in broader and more playful form, as he celebrates his own blissful laziness on "Home (I'm Home)," a wino's marginal existence on "After Six," and a good-time gal's less than rosy reputation on "Suzi Jane is Back in Town," which is set to a very theatrical ragtime backdrop. "In Our Time" is a folk-rock number that sounds like a P.F. Sloan homage, while "Dark in My Heart" has a Dylan-esque tone as Hazlewood shares his troubles while the band cooks up a "Tombstone Blues" shuffle behind him. If the first half of the album speaks of a mature and focused vision, the second sounds like a clever guy goofing off and doing what he wants, with a handful of expert sidemen along for the ride, and none of it seems to have been created with any thought of how the label might make their money back. The unifying theme of Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure is simply Hazlewood being Hazlewood, with a crew of first-call studio pros helping him realize his vision (or sometimes his whims) as the Playboy Philosopher of the L.A. Cowboy Set, and while he made better albums, this one reflects his wit and talents better than most. ~ Mark Deming
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