One of the rarest of Lee Hazlewood's original LPs, 13 is a surprisingly swinging album completely indicative of the year of its recording, 1970. But though it's undeniably a period piece, in many ways it's dated in all the right ways. It began its life as a project for longtime Hazlewood associate Larry Marks, who served as a staff producer at LHI. His idea was to take some of Lee's strongest contemporary songs and give them a big, funky modern R&B sound. Marks took lead vocals on the nine songs and the album was finished, but due to financial concerns it was shelved. Once Lee was living in Sweden and looking for material, he returned to the 13 sessions and replaced Marks' voice with his own. The opener, "You Look Like a Lady," is a gem, complete with soaring horn section, a roving bassline, and scads of wah-wah guitar. Oddly, over-production never hurt Hazlewood's gravelly, off-key delivery, and though the arrangements here aren't always sympathetic to the songwriting ("Tulsa Sunday" is particularly jarring), they're usually entertaining. "She Comes Running," a song originally recorded for 1968's Love and Other Crimes, makes another appearance, though with a much more commercial production. The lyrics are vintage Hazlewood, and "Ten or 11 Towns Ago" is a highlight: "Met a girl in Baltimore/Nothing less and nothing more/She was rich and I was poor/So I let her take me on a small vacation" and "One week in San Francisco, existing on Nabisco/Cookies and bad dreams/Sad scenes and dodging paranoia." Not all of the songs are up to Hazlewood's level; "Toocie and the River" and "Rosacoke Street" are both, relatively speaking, duds. It all adds up to a typically odd, typically rewarding late-period Lee Hazlewood album.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush