Five Special Country Rock Albums From The ’70s

Pure Prairie League released their second album in 1972, headed up by singer and guitarist Craig Fuller. Strange to say the lead-off track of this country-flavoured album was a number entitled “Jazzman”. Bustin’ Out didn’t gain much attention until 1975, when tracks like “Amie” and “Falling In and Out of Love” received wide airplay on FM radio. The band survived Craig Fuller’s departure (due to draft board issues) and even gained a stellar new member in the form of Vince Gill in 1979. The debut album is a keeper, though. Craig Fuller reformed Pure Prairie League in 1998. This lineup yielded one album, All In Good Time, released in 2005. The album failed to chart, but that’s no indication of its quality.

Jeff Hanna headed up the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and was chiefly responsible for their 1969 3-record epic entitled Will The Circle Be Unbroken. That recording featured dozens of old-time Nashville country greats, many of whom extolled the picking and singing abilities of Hanna’s band. High praise indeed. For a close look at NGDB, though, consider their 1975 release entitled Symphonium Dream. It’s eclectic, more country than rock, more rock than country, and altogether thoroughly entertaining, especially if you love banjo.

John David Souther is probably the best lesser-known songwriter in the whole of music. And one of the best singers. He wrote for Linda Ronstadt, he wrote for The Eagles, he was part of the country-rock supergroup Souther-Hillman-Furay, and his own versions of the songs others made famous are gems. “New Kid in Town”, “Sad Cafe”, “Prisoner in Disguise” and “Best of My Love” are among his many creations. He has made several solo albums, and Black Rose might be his best work. Or it may be the case that there is no best work from J D Souther. It is all superb.

Firefall is one of the greatest country-rock groups of all time. So much so that Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac wanted to manage them. The group was plagued by indecision and in-fighting and never fully realized their potential. Mick backed away, and the group was reduced to being an opening act. Even so, if they made only their first album they would still have deserved their induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Their self-titled debut album from 1976 contains their monster hit “You are the Woman”, as well as the incendiary “Cinderella”. This album is a wonder, period.

Out of the ashes of the Buffalo Springfield band came two talented musicians not named Stills or Young. Richie Furay and Jim Messina formed their own band, recruiting multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young and bassist Randy Meisner (who went on to join The Eagles). They called the new band Poco, a takeoff on the popular comic strip Pogo. No one could have foretold it would take ten years, with the 1978 release of Legend, for them to enjoy a best-selling album. It was Rusty Young’s song “Crazy Love” that propelled Poco to the top of the charts. The record was filled with finely-crafted songs similar to the change in direction The Eagles had wrought. The other gem on the album is “Heart of the Night”, though every track demonstrates their success should have happened much sooner.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is the Publisher and Editor of Vivascene, which he founded in 2010. A former record store owner, business executive and business writer, he is devoted to vinyl records, classical guitar, and b&w photography.

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