New Riders of the Purple Sage

Austin Texas 1975

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The fourth "authorized bootleg" of classic New Riders live material released by the Kufala label is a spirited 1975 show from Austin, TX, a city that was the perfect place for the band's hippie aesthetic and vaguely outlaw country-rock to conjoin. After some early technical problems that mar the sound, especially the vocals on the first few tracks, the audio settles down. While this is far from professional quality, it's more than listenable, especially for the hardcore fans this is geared to. This lineup featured new bassist Skip Battin (replacing Dave Torbert), who had recently left the Byrds, and the rest of the original lineup, tearing up a 28-song, two-hour gig at Austin's Armadillo World Headquarters club. The group's affinity for the city is apparent in their back-to-back renditions of Battin's "Austin, Texas" and John Dawson's "Instant Armadillo Blues." While not necessarily known for extended jams along the lines of their friends the Grateful Dead, the band unleashes an impressive 14-minute version of "Portland Woman" that features amazing pedal steel from Buddy Cage and brings a psychedelic feel to its stripped-down country-rock. Covers include Freddy Fender's "Until the Next Teardrop Falls," Chuck Berry's "Nadine," Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba," and an especially rare take of Gary "U.S." Bonds' "New Orleans," none of which appeared on the official live album. Liner notes to this double CD are practically nonexistent, even down to eliminating any songwriting credits, while the packaging is cheap and the sound, although reasonable, remains a bit muffled and inconsistent even at its best. Regardless, this is a lively and complete show, warts and all, from a band that, on a good night, was as enjoyable and exciting as country-rock gets.

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