Various Artists

Truckers, Kickers, Cowboys Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock , Vol. 7: 1974

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The final volume of Bear Family's seven-part country-rock history Truckers, Kickers, Cowboys Angels: The Blissed-Out Birth of Country-Rock concludes the story of the rise of country-rock by illustrating ways rock worked its way into mainstream country, while mainstream rock embraced the sunny vibes of California cowboy music so thoroughly it no longer seemed country. Of these two trends, the latter doesn't get as much space on this double-disc volume devoted to the music of 1974-1975. It's there in the Doobie Brothers' mellow "Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need)" and the Outlaws' railroad-train twang "There Goes Another Love Song," plus the laid-back boogie of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, who sound like a lither Eagles on "Trouble in Paradise." All this pales in comparison to the rise of Waylon and Willie. These long-haired outlaws started to take over Nashville -- it's hard to mistake how Hank Williams, Jr. and Charlie Daniels, two veterans, decided to remake themselves in their image -- and their shadow is cast elsewhere, evident in the rise of Kinky Friedman, Billy Swan's back-to-the-'50s rock & roll, Larry Jon Wilson's pungent redneck funk, and even Doug Sahm, who formed the first version of the Texas Tornados and then bowed out of the Austin competition with "Cowboy Peyton Place." Elsewhere, Guy Clark released his classic "Desperados Waiting for a Train" and "L.A. Freeway," Hoyt Axton settled into the '70s hangover of "When the Morning Comes," and the last recordings of Gram Parsons are heard. Parsons died in 1973, the year covered in the previous volume, but "Brass Buttons" appeared in 1974 and provides a nice counterpart to the equally wistful Willie tune "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," the song that closes this set and series. "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" gave Nelson his first number one single and, in doing so, provided the triumph not just for outlaw country but country-rock, proving how these cosmic cowboys changed American music for good.

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