Michael Nesmith & the First National Band

Loose Salute

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After reinventing himself as an engagingly spacey cowboy on the splendid Magnetic South, Michael Nesmith took a slightly more eclectic approach on his second album with the First National Band, Loose Salute. While country flavors still dominate the album (and Red Rhodes' pedal steel work was even stronger this time out), the up-tempo numbers swing a bit harder (especially the rollicking "Dedicated Friend"), there's a funky R&B undertow to "Bye, Bye, Bye," the rhythm guitars on "Silver Moon" suggest Nesmith had heard a bit of reggae, and "Tengo Amore" brings a Latin influence into the mix. But Nesmith's love of old-school country still rings clear on every cut (especially the steel-dominated remake of the Monkees' "Listen to the Band"), and after letting the world know about his deeper side on Magnetic South, Loose Salute found Nesmith writing about more direct and organic themes (love, faith, ditching work, leaving the Monkees). Nesmith also took over as producer, and he gets a tougher and tighter sound from the band than Felton Jarvis managed on Magnetic South. Loose Salute doesn't cohere quite as well as Magnetic South, but the material is strong, the band sounds great, and Michael Nesmith offered even more surprises than he had in his first turn at bat; it's one of the strongest records in his catalog as a solo artist.

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