Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels The Last Roundup: Live from the Bijou Café in Philadelphia March 16th, 1973
Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels
The Last Roundup: Live from the Bijou Café in Philadelphia March 16th, 1973
Fifty years after Gram Parsons’ passing, Amoeba Music and Polly Parsons have unearthed the only live-to-an-audience recording of Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels – The Last Roundup: Live from the Bijou Café in Philadelphia March 16th, 1973. This will be available as a 2-LP set on Record Store Day, November 24. This is the closest you’ll ever get to feeling like you were in the room to hear the sweet harmonies and Parsons sometimes witty, sometimes awkward banter with the audience.
If you think you’ve seen a live album from Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels Live in 1973, you’re right. This Record Store Day special is taken from the same tour just three days later, with, of course, the same band. Live 1973 was recorded at Ultra Sonic Recording Studios in Hempstead, New York on March 13, 1973 during a live radio broadcast from WLIR–FM, a station located in Garden City, New York, thus without a live audience heard on the recording. The timing placed it between Parsons’ only two solo studio albums, GP, and Grievous Angel, although it was not officially released (on LP) until 1982, long after Parsons’ 1973 death at age 26. The two studio albums were later released in combination as one CD. The highlight for many of the studio work and the live album is the presence of the then relatively unknown Emmylou Harris. The Fallen Angels, however, were a different band than that which appeared on Parsons’ two solo albums. As Parsons and Harris prepared to tour the United States in 1973 to promote his solo debut, GP, James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and most of the band who performed on the album had prior commitments to Elvis Presley‘s TCB Band. Parsons instead assembled a crew of roadhouse pickers he dubbed “the Fallen Angels.” They are Parsons (vocals/guitar). Emmylou Harris (vocals), Neil Flanz (pedal steel guitar), Kyle Tullus (bass), Jock Bartley (lead guitar), and ND Smart II (drums).
If you have the studio work and perhaps even the Live 1973, you’re familiar with tunes such as the enduring classics “Love Hurts,” “Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man,” and “Sin City.” You may also know “Streets of Baltimore,” “California Cottonfield,” “Big Mouth Blues,” “My Uncle,” “The New Soft Shoe” and others. Parsons, then only 26, and destined to live for only another six months, was a driving force behind The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers before the launched his solo career in 1973. Consider Parsons perhaps “the” pioneer of country rock. The Fallen Angels sound rudimentarily twangy but solid behind Parsons’ infectious tunes. He wasn’t blessed with the greatest voice but the combination of he and Emmylou worked beautifully. He certainly had a knack for songwriting however and the infectious hooks in tunes such as “We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes,” “Streets of Baltimore,” and “The New Soft Shoe” to name three still hold up well. The sound quality is surprisingly good considering the age of the recording. As the story goes, this was the third night at Philly’s Bijou Café and pedal steel player Neil Flanz felt that it was the best show of the tour and requested a copy of the soundboard recording. He saved the cassette for almost 40 years and then it was acquired by Amoeba Music for a future Parsons release. The recording then stayed hidden in the Amoeba vault for another decade before it was rediscovered when Amoeba moved to a new location in L.A.
This is indeed a worthy release, and you’ll likely surprise yourself by humming and singing along with some of these tunes as they’ve been latent in your subconscious for all these years. The old is familiar once again.
- Jim Hynes
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