Monday, January 7, 2013

Michael Nesmith-Complete First National Band

The complete first national band
Michael Nesmith's history as an artist is a tale of two careers. As a Monkee in the late-sixties, he was part of a commercial juggernaut that produced a number of hit singles. As a solo artist he garnered critical raves for his first three post-Monkees albums where he was backed by the First National Band and helped launch country rock. While he seldom gets the credit, Nesmith's work with the First National Band was every bit as influential as the Byrds or the Flying Burrito Brothers. [I say this knowing full well that in the liner notes Nesmith calls this nonsense, saying "Arbitrary categories such as Country Rock or R&B is fostered by schools, perpetuated by fools, creates havoc in the business of arts and tends to oppress artists." But I think he is just being modest.]

For years these three albums--MAGNETIC SOUTH, LOOSE SALUTE (both from 1970) and NEVADA FIGHTER (1971)--have only been available through Nesmith's website. It's nice to see these more readily available.

Each album is presented over two CDs in its entirety. Thirty tracks in all of Nesmith originals and a few well chosen covers. His biggest hit, of course, was "Joanne" (No. 21, 1970), but other highlights include "Calico Girlfriend," "Silver Moon," Tengo Amore" and "Propinquity." Nesmith also breathes new life into such classics as "I Fall to Pieces," "Beyond the Blue Horizon" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."

Nesmith's distinct sound also owes a great deal to the late O.J. "Red" Rhodes on pedal steel, who would perform an every studio album Nesmith ever recorded. If you are a fan of SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO-era Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco or the Eagles, you must add this to your collection. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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