The Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace Of Sin - Review
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critics' view

Formed by Byrds dropouts Chris Hillman (24, electric and acoustic guitar, harmony, lead and backing vocals, mandolin) and Gram Parsons (22, lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, organ), the Flying Burrito Brothers line up was completed by Pete Kleinow (34, pedal steel guitar) and Chris Ethridge (22, bass guitar, backing vocals, piano). Of their debut, the Rolling Stone at the time said: “Together, the mercurial Gram Parsons and the level-headed Chris Hillman have concocted a crazily coherent statement of irony-fuelled hillbilly anthems, inventive covers and achingly beautiful two-part harmonies, all underscored by Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s radical pedal-steel guitar.” They’re certainly on the right side of the country track, with soulful and bluesy inflections that create a whole lot of genuine warmth. The best tracks are all killer, including the sensational “Sin City”, where the Everly Brothers meet Hank Williams downtown. In it, there’s a mention for The Byrds’s manager Larry Spector (“a gold plated door”) and Robert F. Kennedy (“tried to clean up this town”). It’s an ode to L.A. on one level – but hits out at the fat cats who would dance with the devil. Speaking of his former manager, Chris Hillman said: “Spector was a thief, it was as simple as that. And his condo – he lived on the 31st floor behind this awful, garish gold door.” Ooft. Is there any better place than the worldwide stage of an LP to wreak you revenge? The cryptic, hard-hitting dis may not have hit so hard at the time – the album was critically acclaimed, but a commercial flop – but it continues to charm new fans decades down the line. A familiar story for my kinda music…

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