Why America's debut LP isn't considered firmly and unbudgeably in the upper stratosphere of truly great rock LPs, I have no idea, but it's inarguably one of the great releases, 110% solid and then some. There followed quite a trove of later LP material after its publication as well. In a way, America was like Chicago: killer debut and long slow slide into artistic mediocrity. Then there's David Gates and Bread, which, well, too often tended to the weenie side a bit much for my taste, but still produced a number of really great cuts. Neither America nor Bread has been much covered, so Bobby Bare Jr.'s now repairing that deficiency, thank God, and doing a very very cool job of it.
Bare is the offspring of a guy who was well known in the 60s/70s/80s as a top-notch country performer and writer, Bobby Bare, and both father and son scored a Grammy nomination for Daddy What If when Jr. was only 8 years old. Since then, Bare Jr.'s been knocking around the industry in a roots rock vein. This EP shows what he's made of while serving up some great interpretations of absolute gems oft delivered a la Leonard Cohen or David Williams, had either hired Willie Nelson's backing band. The architecture for the songs is spare, spacious, and laconic but the renditions are gritty, spooky, and very enjoyable.
There's also there's an 'alpha' and 'beta' version of Sister Golden Hair and the beta version ironically kicks the shit out of the alpha in terms of pure brashness and thud. Both are excellent but the beta sounds as though it was ripped from Waddy Wachtel's old Ronin band, harsh and raucous. It ain't no cool fall breeze, but rather a balmy summer's afternoon, dark and gritty, sun-glazed, sweaty, and highly dusted with sod and wheat. Everything comes together to make a really worthwile EP…but…there seems to be no indication he'll follow it up with a full-blown release, and I wish to hell he would.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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