Swampwater

Reunion

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As Linda Ronstadt's backing band through the early '70s, Swampwater cut a couple of justly revered albums, clashing their love of Louisiana with a distinctly Byrdsian country edge, before breaking up in 1972. The bandmembers nevertheless continued orbiting one another as they sessioned for the stars and, in 1979, founders John Beland, Gib Guilbeau, and Thad Maxwell, plus drummer Mickey McGee, reconvened for a Swampwater reunion at L.A.'s Criterion studio. Unreleased for close to a decade, the sensibly titled Reunion finally surfaced on the Italian label Appaloosa in 1987; 16 years on, it reappeared via Akarma, a testament to both the group's seemingly impermeable European following, and the timelessness of their sound. Without ever truly tackling the brilliance of the original group's recordings, Reunion is a tight blending of all the elements that rendered the likes of "Nashville Lady," "Louisiana Woman," and "Take a City Bride" such gems -- "Middle of Midnight" is an aptly named curtain raiser on an album that charges through a dozen characteristic country rockers, and peaks time and again. Bobby Fuller's "Let Her Dance" is an early standout; "Return of the Lonesome Fugitive" and "Lovin' on the Fault Line" are highlights, too. Concluding the album, meanwhile, bonus tracks "You" and "Cheatin' Kind of Love" are drawn from the half dozen or so outtakes recorded during the sessions (and previously appeared on the Flying Burrito Brothers' Hollywood Nights album.

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