Personnel: Gram Parsons (vocals, guitar, piano); Gram Parsons; The Flying Burrito Brothers; Chris Hillman (vocals, guitar, background vocals); Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar); Chris Ethridge (bass guitar); Michael Clarke (drums).
Liner Note Authors: Dave Prinz; Pamela des Barres.
Recording information: Avalon Ballroom (??/??/1967-04/06/1969); Los Angeles, CA (??/??/1967-04/06/1969); New York, NY (??/??/1967-04/06/1969).
At the time of this incredible two-disc set's release in 2007, the Gram Parsons rarities well had run so dry that Amoeba Records co-founder Dave Pinz had to nose around another band's vaults (the notoriously deep archives of the Grateful Dead) for these Flying Burrito Brothers tapes. The material--recorded by Bear Stanley, the Grateful Dead's legendary live engineer--comprises two honky tonk-heavy sets from April 4, 1969, and April 6, 1969, when the Burritos opened for the Dead at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom.
While the Parsons-era Burritos were never the tightest live band, ARCHIVES VOLUME ONE captures the one short era during which everyone in the band was together, getting along, and feeling great about the music they had discovered. You can hear it in the tracks: Chris Hillman's delicate harmony on "Dark End of the Street," Sneaky Pete Kleinow's pedal steel pyrotechnics on Waylon Jennings's "Mental Revenge," and Parsons's lovely tenor on a devastating version of "Hot Burrito #1." This is the band's finest hour; it didn't last long, but thankfully for fans, it is thrillingly captured here.
Rolling Stone (p.199) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] pair of shows that capture Parsons' dream -- a new American union of R&B, psychedelic rebellion and rock's country roots..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.79) - "[This] live set features Parsons, the late country-rock trailblazer, at his prime." -- Grade: B+
Dirty Linen (p.55) - "[T]hey are focused and on top of their game here, with Michael Clarke's crisp drumming, Sneaky Pete Kleinow's stunning steel guitar, and the sublime harmonies of Parsons and Hillman."
No Depression (p.67) - "[With] nuggets such as Mel Tillis' 'Mental Revenge' and a chugging cover of Roy Orbison's 'Dream Baby' earns an encore."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.120) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] raucous cover of Mel Tillis' 'Mental Revenge' is the sound of the birth of alt-country."
Harp (magazine) (p.111) - "[T]he band displays its stunning ability to merge country, soul and folk-rock into something uniquely its own."