Thursday, April 10, 2014

Steve Young - Seven Bridges Road (1970-81 us, brilliant outlaw country folk rock, 2005 remaster and expanded)

If you’re a fan of country-rock, Americana, or the 70s Outlaw Movement, you know that Steve Young is no run-of-the-mill artist.  1969′s Rock, Salt and Nails was a fine debut but on this disc Young comes into his own as a songwriter.  One could make the case that this is Young’s best LP, though the next 3 records that follow Seven Bridges Road are also very good.

Confusingly, there are three versions of Seven Bridges Road, each one featuring a slightly different song lineup.  For my money the 1971/1972 Reprise version (the green album) is the best, but the Blue Canyon (1975) and Rounder LPs (1981) each have something to offer fans.  Recording originally commenced in Los Angeles with Ry Cooder on hand but then sometime later, sessions were moved to Nashville.  Things didn’t go so smoothly down in Nashville.  Steve Young recalls: “These sessions were a clash of vibes.  Some pickers were into it.  Others, I had to fight it out.  There was a lot of friction between those Nashville players and me because of the way they were used to doing things, but it came out quite well.”

Seven Bridges Road is full of incredible performances.  Young’s songwriting is stronger than ever this time around, his singing is often compelling and the musicians that support him are in excellent form.  The title cut and “Lonesome On’ry and Mean” (a big hit for Waylon Jennings) are outlaw classics that have made other artists lots of money.  That being said, much of this album’s strength is in it’s variety: “Come Sit By My Side” is gorgeous folk-rock, there are two hard driving, boozy country-rockers in “Long Way To Hollywood” and “The White Trash Song”, the gutbucket country of “Many Rivers” and quirky Americana (“Ragtime Blue Guitar” and “One Car Funeral Procession”).  Seven Bridges Road is one of the truly great country-rock records.
by Jason Nardelli
1. Seven Bridges Road (1981 Version) - 3:37
2. Montgomery In The Rain - 4:08
3. Ragtime Blue Guitar - 2:48
4. Long Way To Hollywood - 3:59
5. Down In The Flood - 2:34
6. Ballad Of William Sycamore (Lyrics by Stephen Vincent Benet) - 4:16
7. My Oklahoma (Cheryl Young) - 3:00
8. Wild Goose - 3:43
9. Days Of '49 (Traditional) - 3:35
10.Lonesome, On'ry And Mean - 3:37
11.I Begin To See Design (Steve Young, Cheryl Young) - 2:57
12.One Car Funeral Procession - 3:06
13.Many Rivers - 2:59
14.Come Sit By My Side (Fred Carter, Jr.) - 3:01
15.True Note - 2:56
16.I Can't Hold Myself In Line (Merle Haggard) - 2:17
17.Crash On The Levy - 2:34
18.The White Trash Song (L.A. Version) - 3:03
19.The White Trash Song (Nashville Version) - 2:50  
20.The White Trash Song (N.M. Version) - 3:13
21.Seven Bridges Road (Original Version) - 3:22
words and Music by Steve Young except where stated

*Steve Young - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Drake - Steel Guitar
*Weldon Myrick - Steel Guitar
*Josh Graves - Dobro
*Buddy Spicher - Fiddle
*Charlie Mccoy - Harmonica
*David Briggs - Keyboards
*Fred Carter, Jr. - Bass
*D.J. Fontana - Drums
*Bobby Thompson - Guitar
*Ray Edenton - Guitar
*Bob Moore - Guitar
*Dale Sellers - Guitar
*Pete Wade - Guitar
*Jerry Smith - Keyboards
*William Ackerman - Drums
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Henry Strzelecki - Bass
*Paul Tannen - Vocals
*Ginger Holladay - Vocals
*Mary Holladay - Vocals

1969  Steve Young - Rock Salt And Nails (Korean remaster)
1968  Stone Country - Stone Country (Rev Ola remaster)

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Steve Young - Rock Salt And Nails (1969 us, marvelous country folk psych tinged rock, 2010 korean remaster)

Steve Young’s first solo record, Rock Salt and Nails, is essentially stripped down, a somewhat simple recording, yet adventurous, way ahead of its time, and gorgeous. Every song’s a genuine treat, with sincerely masterful production combining outlaw country, rock, folk, blues, and a touch of gospel.

That’s How Strong My Love Is, the infinitely relistenable opener on this record, sounds just as fresh as anything from the Ryan Adams and David Rawlings collaborations, and features a careful organ part from the poster boy of country rock himself, Gram Parsons. Bluegrass standard Rock Salt and Nails gets a nice pensive treatment, and the fiddle sound on this record- it’s so dang bright and surreal sounding (I can’t help but wonder if, however unlikely, they snuck a few well-tuned Moog synthesizers into the studio!) 

The production doesn’t stand out, but remains ingenious, as in the restraint of those bouncy double electric guitar lines, unleashed only in the very chorus of One Woman Man. I’m unclear on whether the raga-like Coyote is more aptly titled for its lyrical content or representing Steve’s wild lonesome howl on each stanza. And if you let Love In My Time take you with it, it will. A short song but so effective with the all-for-it gospel backup, it’s a great example of Steve Young’s solid, unwavering vocal power. Seven Bridges Road, conveniently placed at track 7 on this disc, is his most well known tune though not from this rendition, but the Eagles’ cover version.

The reason I love this record is for its subtlety in production, a wonderful interplay of country licks hovering at just the right level, creating a playful and relaxed musical atmosphere. The warm, fuzzy strings adding mood and color. Holler In The Swamp, a brilliant tune with full rock band, feels like it could take right off; the musicians behind the wheel of this record simply nail it with an understated drive, the intensifying string section making you want more and less at the same time. It closes with a mighty fine version of Hank Williams’ My Sweet Love Ain’t Around, and it’s nice to know that it’s Gene Clark blowing harp in your headphones.

Some will debate the nature of authenticity in music, but if anything is ‘authentic,’ I know that it’s this classic, country-rock shaping LP. Shamefully out of print for so long, you might construct the album for yourself by combining the mp3s below with Lonesome On’ry & Mean, an overview compilation of Steve Young’s works.
by Brendan McGrath
1. That's How Strong My Love Is (Roosevelt Jamieson) - 3:41
2. Rock Salt And Nails (Utah Phillips) - 3:42
3. I'm A One-Woman Man (Johnny Horton, Tillman Franks) - 2:13
4. Coyote (Peter La Farge) - 4:16
5. Gonna Find Me A Bluebird (Marvin Rainwater) - 2:41
6. Love In My Time (Steve Young) - 2:14
7. Seven Bridges Road (Steve Young) - 3:38
8. Kenny's Song (Kenny Austin) - 4:09
9. Holler In The Swamp (Steve Young) - 3:51
10.Hoboin' (Traditional; Arranged Steve Young) - 4:15
11.My Sweet Love Ain't Around (Hank Williams) - 2:55

*Steve Young - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*James Burton - Dobro, Guitar
*Gram Parsons - Organ
*Gene Clark - Harmonica
*Dave Jackson - Bass
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Richard Greene - Fiddle
*Meyer Sniffin - Fiddle
*Don Beck - Guitar
*Hal Blaine - Drums

1968  Stone Country - Stone Country (Rev Ola remaster)

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