In the year before his death in the fall of 1973, Gram Parsons recorded two superb solo albums, and Warner Brothers has conveniently reissued them in their entirety on a single compact disc. Since many of the same musicians played on both G.P. (released in January of 1973) and Grievous Angel (which appeared in stores almost exactly a year later), the two albums flow together quite well as a single set…
GP is American singer-songwriter Gram Parsons' debut solo album. Working with a crack band of L.A. and Nashville's finest (including James Burton on guitar, Ronnie Tutt on drums, Byron Berline on fiddle, and Glen D. Hardin on piano), he drew from them a sound that merged breezy confidence with deeply felt Southern soul, and he in turn pulled off some of his most subtle and finely detailed vocal performances; "She" and "A Song for You," in particular, are masterful examples of passion finding balance with understatement.
In the year before his death in the fall of 1973, Gram Parsons recorded two superb solo albums, and Warner Brothers has conveniently reissued them in their entirety on a single compact disc. Since many of the same musicians played on both G.P. (released in January of 1973) and Grievous Angel (which appeared in stores almost exactly a year later), the two albums flow together quite well as a single set. And while no bonus tracks were added, the booklet features well-written essays on Parsons from John M. Delgatto and Marley Brant, the complete liner notes from both albums, and lyrics for all the songs on the disc (which weren't included in the original vinyl issues). While the material and performances on G.P. are a shade stronger than on Grievous Angel, both albums have more than their share of pearly moments, and this disc is a treat from start to finish; James Burton's guitar leads are chicken-pickin' at its smartest and most tasteful, Al Perkins' pedal steel is the definitive sound of country & western heartache, fiddler Byron Berline effortlessly reveals how he became one of Nashville's leading session musicians, and Parsons' duets with the young Emmylou Harris are nothing less than sublime.
Gram Parsons is the father of country-rock. With the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, the songwriter pioneered the concept of a rock band playing country music, and as a solo artist he moved even further into the country realm, blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other. While he was alive, Parsons was a cult figure that never sold many records but influenced countless fellow musicians, from the Rolling Stones to the Byrds. His legacy continued to grow, as both country and rock musicians built on the music he left behind. Musicians such as Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello covered his songs, and his influence could still be heard well into the next millennium. The Complete Reprise Sessions is a box set released in 2006 featuring both of Gram Parsons's early 1970s solo albums, GP and Grievous Angel. The box set features interviews and previously unreleased alternative takes…
Gram Parsons fondness for drugs and high living are said to have been catching up with him while he was recording Grievous Angel, and sadly he wouldn't live long enough to see it reach record stores, dying from a drug overdose in the fall of 1973. This album is a less ambitious and unified set than his solo debut, but that's to say that G.P. was a great album while Grievous Angel was instead a very, very good one. Much of the same band that played on his solo debut were brought back for this set, and they perform with the same effortless grace and authority (especially guitarist James Burton and fiddler Byron Berline).
GP was the first solo album by Gram Parsons, former member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and, is probably the best realized expression of his musical personality. Allmusic 5/5
Grievous Angel was the second solo album by Gram Parsons, compiled from 1973 sessions and released four months after his death. Like all of Parsons' records, it failed to rate high on the charts, never reaching the top hundred on the Billboard charts. Nonetheless, it is viewed as a successful example of the hybrid between country and rock and roll Parsons called "Cosmic American Music."
Gram Parsons may have been one of rock's first great trust fund hippies, but he couldn't match the kind of paycheck Elvis Presley was able to offer for a Vegas gig. So when he hit the road in 1973 to promote his superb solo debut, G.P., James Burton, Ronnie Tutt, and most of the band that anchored that album were otherwise engaged. He instead threw together a rough-and-ready crew of roadhouse pickers he dubbed "the Fallen Angels" (Emmylou Harris, thankfully, was available to make the trip), and they began making their way through America's rock clubs and honky tonks. Live 1973 was recorded live for radio broadcast in the midst of that tour, and if you imagine it sounds a good bit rougher and leaner than G.P. (which includes six of the 12 cuts featured here), you'd be right. On "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes" and "Cry One More Time," the Fallen Angels aren't quite up to the task of re-creating the studio arrangements, but they're surprisingly strong on the quieter numbers, especially "The New Soft Shoe" and "Love Hurts" (the latter of which earned a Grammy nomination), and when they pick up the tempo for some end-of-the-set covers (including Merle Haggard's "California Cottonfields" and Dave Dudley's "Six Days on the Road"), guitarist Jock Bartley and pedal steel player Neil Flanz sound like the core of a great bar band.