Flyin' High

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Blackfoot's 1975 debut, No Reservations (named in reference to their Native American bloodlines), had been a critical and commercial bust for their indifferent label, Island Records, so after being cut loose from their contract, the resourceful Southern rock group immediately hooked up with the more rock-friendly Epic Records, for the release of their second long-player, Flyin' High, the very next year. Unfortunately, like most sophomore albums, some of Flyin' High's songs clearly suffered from having been rushed into existence, as compared to the slow gestation enjoyed by the group's earlier material. And the bottom line was that Blackfoot were also still seeking their songwriting groove on their way to establishing the heavier style of Southern rock that would eventually distinguish them from Skynyrd and all of their clones. But in terms of Flyin' High itself, the first of these two factoids addressed the abundance of undercooked, second-class numbers like "Stranger on the Road," "Junkie's Dream," and "Madness," while the second explained a few of the unnaturally "happy" sounding tunes such as opener "Feelin' Good," the urban cowboy anthem "Dancin' Man," and the unfettered country sweetness of "Mother." Of course, even Blackfoot's heaviest albums still to come invariably made room for an epic Southern rock ballad, yet even by most measures, Flyin' High's aptly named example, "Try a Little Harder," was particularly mediocre. And even though the negative effects of unsympathetic production should not be overlooked (later efforts would be recorded like hard rock albums first, Southern rock second), the fact remains that only a handful of these tracks -- "Save Your Time," "Island of Life," the title cut -- actually pass muster by Blackfoot's future high standards. In retrospect, there's no telling what proper promotional support could have done for Flyin' High (after all, Blackfoot on a bad day still beat hell out of the competition), but the album was roundly ignored by consumers, saw the group dropped for the second year straight, and would join its predecessor in cutout bins, languishing out of print for decades on end. By the time Blackfoot made a comeback with 1979's watershed Strikes LP, many new fans simply assumed that this was actually the group's first release, rather than a case of well-deserved third time lucky.

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