Borderline

Sweet Dreams and Quiet Desires/The Second Album

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Real Gone's 2013 two-fer reissues Borderline's 1973 debut Sweet Dreams and Quiet Desires and their 1974 follow-up The Second Album, which remained in the vaults until a 2001 Japanese issue. Therefore, this disc is the first time The Second Album has ever appeared in the U.S., which alone would make this useful, but the 1973 debut has been difficult to find, relegating Borderline to cult status among fans of early-'70s country-rockers. And while the group certainly didn't enjoy commercial success while it was active, the trio -- featuring brothers David and Jon Gershen and featuring Jim Rooney, who later produced Nanci Griffith -- did have a distinctive viewpoint, borrowing from folk and country, sometimes sounding like the Grateful Dead, sometimes sounding like Crosby, Stills & Nash, sometimes getting a little grittier and funkier but usually opting for a vaguely ethereal, hazy collection of harmonies and acoustics evoking without belonging to the early '70s. Borderline splice various roots music -- specifically folk and country, sometimes touching upon the blues and a bit of rock & roll -- usually favoring spacy sweetness to grit, something that's apparent on a lazy boogie like "Don't Know Where I'm Going." Appropriately given its title, this dreaminess is more apparent on Sweet Dreams than it is on The Second Album, where the trio's idiosyncrasies are relatively streamlined and the production a bit cleaner and punchier, all moves to make the band a little more commercial. Of course, all these changes didn't pay off. The album remained shelved for decades but when combined here with Sweet Dreams, it helps serve as a testament to an Americana band that was just slightly before its time or, perhaps more appropriately, slightly out of time: not funky or hooky enough to truly make it commercially in the '70s, but too rhythm-oriented and rootsy to fit the literary-oriented Americana of the new millennium. Which, of course, hardly makes it bad: what's interesting about Borderline is how the band is caught between these two worlds, belonging to its time yet suggesting what was to come.

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