This Australian single-disc compilation corrals two-dozen tracks from the New Riders of the Purple Sage (NRPS) during their prolific four-year run with Columbia Records (1971-1975). Wasted Tasters (1994) draws upon the long-players New Riders of the Purple Sage (1971), Powerglide (1972), Gypsy Cowboy (1972), The Adventures of Panama Red (1973), the live Home, Home on the Road (1974), Brujo (1974), and Oh, What a Mighty Time (1975). Initially, NRPS were primarily considered a country-flavored Grateful Dead spin-off band. Jerry Garcia (guitar/pedal steel guitar/vocals), Phil Lesh (bass), Mickey Hart (percussion), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), and, occasionally on-stage, Bob Weir (guitar/vocals) floated in and out of incipient versions of the band, which was more permanently manned by John Dawson (guitar/vocals), former Jefferson Airplane member Spencer Dryden (drums), Dave Nelson (guitar/mandolin/vocals), Dave Torbert (bass/guitar/vocals), and at times Commander Cody (piano). While the personnel seemingly changed from album to album, the New Riders' strong blend of boot-kickin' country & western-tinged originals remained one of the band's most consistently cohesive forces -- as evidenced throughout Wasted Tasters. Their earliest efforts -- such as the smugglin' saga "Henry" or the high and lonesome bluegrass vibe of "Glendale Train" -- set a lofty compositional standard from within the band's ranks. This is especially true of Dawson -- who penned a majority of the material on the first few NRPS albums -- and later Torbert, whose seminal contributions are highlighted by "Contract" and "She's No Angel." Their choice and execution of cover tunes featured on this collection include a rousing reading of "I Don't Need No Doctor" and an affective "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)." They were also able to sustain that momentum on future reworkings of the Stones' "Dead Flowers" and Gene Pitney's "Hello Mary Lou." Sadly, the later incarnations of the New Riders were not able to maintain a stable lineup. As such their efforts suffered from seeming indecision as well as lackluster performances. However, Wasted Tasters is a definitive single-disc compilation of early highlights.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer