HARRIS AND THE ANGEL BAND
For anybody with an eye for Emmylou Harris history, this is one of the holy grails - the cassette recording that Canadian producer Brian Ahern made, the first time he saw the newly-signed Angel Band. "We sat at a table in the Red Fox Inn," he recalled, "and recorded four sets of Emmylou and her band with my portable Uher cassette machine."
Those origins are not hard to miss. The sound quality here is nothing youd want to listen to too often, although its still a helluva lot better than, say, the Velvet Undergrounds similarly sourced Live At Maxs, and its in stereo as well. Harris is in fine form, and the Angel Band - which, at that time, included old friend Tom Guidera and pedal steel player Danny Pendleton - builds the perfect backing for the mix of country classics, Gram Parsons favorites and occasional covers that were Harris repertoire at the time. A handful of songs destined for her debut album are included - "Queen of the Silver Dollar," "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" and "Satans Jewel Crown"; theres a haunting "Hickory Wind" and "Together Again," and a rocking "Shop Around" that blueprints the show-stopping storm that remained in her repertoire deep into the decade. Remarkable, too, is the sheer energy of the proceedings - four sets, 29 songs, and not only is there scarcely any repetition, theres no sign of the enthusiasm flagging, either. As the last notes of the closing "Country Baptizin" fade, it would be no surprise at all to hear the band kick into their performance all over again.
sets greatest value is as an historical artefact - again, the sound
quality sees to that. But still its a fascinating listen, and one
of the most important documents of the young Emmylou that is currently
available. Very few people outside of her immediate neighborhood got to
see the unsigned Angel Band, and weve had to trust their hearsay
about how good they were. Now we can find out for ourselves. -
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