Gram Parsons Grievous Angel on 180g LP
To place Gram Parsons properly in the pantheon of musical pioneers would be an impossible task. This willowy, dreamy country boy is right up there with Elvis, The Beatles and Bob Dylan when it comes to his influence on the state of popular music. After stints in the Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Parsons made his solo debut in January 1973 with the game changing album GP and followed it up with the masterwork Grievous Angel a year later, issued just months after his death of a drug overdose in September 1973.
Grievous Angel has been called one of the best harmony records of its era. Actually, it’s one of the best of all-time. Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris’ voices seamlessly match in a wedding of deep emotion, graceful beauty, and soulful communion. Behind it all, Parsons and an all-star band achieve their collective desire to unite roots country with the rejuvenated social consciousness present in late 60s rock. That it constitutes Parsons’ swan song adds another layer of depth to its tremendous importance.
Most famously known for the inclusion of the definitive version of “Love Hurts,” Grievous Angel is widely considered Parsons’ most cohesive and consistent work. While it only features two new Parsons compositions, the record works as a synthesis of time, place, spirit, and kindred togetherness. The album bridges seemingly opposed styles and concepts, channeling a laidback spirituality that owes to songs gleaned from the past and present, memories lamented and cherished.
Whether expressing tenderness (“Brass Buttons,” an homage to Parsons’ mother that died from alcoholism when he was 18), making confessions (“Return of the Grievous Angel,” steeped in unrequited love), reliving failed romances (“$1000 Wedding”), or remembering cherished deceased friends (the hymnal “In My Hour of Darkness”), Parsons and Co. don’t strike a false note. In pianist Glen Hardin, guitarist James Burton, drummer Ronnie Tutt, and bassist Emory Gordy, Parsons couldn’t have assembled a more sympathetic band. Add Bernie Leadon on dobro and Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar, and you have one of the best country ensembles ever assembled.
Gram Parsons Grievous Angel Track Listing:
1. Return of the Grievous Angel
2. Hearts on Fire
3. I Can't Dance
4. Brass Buttons
5. $1000 Wedding
6. Medley Live from Northern Quebec: Cash on the Barrelhead / Hickory Wind
7. Love Hurts
8. Ooh Las Vegas
9. In My Hour of Darkness