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The Gilded Palace Of Sin & Burrito Deluxe
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2006
I will not add much to the other assessments of the great (Gram Parsons-era) Flying Burrito Brothers albums collected on this single cd import - it is their first two albums, the classic "Gilded Palace Of Sin" (1969) and the very good followup "Burrito Deluxe" (1970). "Gilded" remains an astonishing melange of styles, more original in its conception than the Parsons/Chris Hillman-era Byrds album "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" (1968), and with more (9 out of 11) original songs. Most of the material remains breathtaking, an encapsulation of Parsons' fundamental vision - lover of country and soul music for its purity of expression, and sophisticated, worldly ironist. This is something he shared with his friends The Rolling Stones, who as arty Englishmen brought a similar love and distance to the blues and r & b that inspired them. Parsons could not sing "The Christian Life" with the same conviction as the Louvin Brothers, but neither could he simply mock its sentiments, and therein lies the source of his greatness. By 1970, Parsons had started hanging out with the Stones, and like many succumbed to the hard drugs and luxuriant decadence that somehow never - quite - swallowed the band itself, though they've come close many times through the decades. Unfortunately Parsons and Keith Richards didn't put much of their legendary informal collaborations down on tape (or, none that has surfaced), but clearly by this second album Parsons was distracted, and increasingly unreliable. Nevertheless "Burrito Deluxe" suffers only by comparison to its predecessor - it is a fine album, slight on new Parsons material and more rock oriented but with many fine moments, from "God's Own Singer" (I'll take it over the Eagles entire catalog) to "Cody Cody". Parsons was unrelieable by 1970, and the rest of the Burritos' frustration would shortly lead to his ouster. There's tension evident throughout the second album - Michael Clarke's drumming, which in tandem with Chris Hillman's bass was always inspired on the Byrds' "5D", here seems hurried, rushing the songs along as though upping the tempo might somehow spark the magic that came so effortlesslessly on the debut. And the mix is strangely dense and airless, almost claustrophobic, which fits songs of dissipation and decay, like 'High Fashion Queen' and 'Man In The Shadows'. Interestingly the tension is heightened and unresolved on the finale, the Burritos' take on Jagger/Richards' 'Wild Horses' which appeared nearly a year before the Stones' version. Gram's vocal is gorgeous, heartbreaking, and Leon Russell's lovely piano adds the perfect touch, but Clarke's drumming and Hillman's bass are lumpy, awkward, lacking the unforced elegance of the Stones' Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman who so perfectly underlined Mick Jagger's more restrained, feline vocal. Heartbreaking sincerity was never Jagger's forte, of course, but it's here that Gram - finally back leading the group he co-founded - is dramatically undersupported by the rest of the band.
As for this import two-fer, it sounds fine, though lacks both the first rate mastering and substantial annotation of the US compilation I suggest investing in as an alternative, the A&M set (issued in 2000), "Hot Burritos: Anthology 1969 - 72". This 2-cd set, only slightly more expensive than the import under discussion, contains the two Parsons-era albums, plus the classic non-lp single "The Train Song" (released shortly after "Gilded Palace", and produced by Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and Larry Williamson!), eight additional Parsons/Burritos recordings recorded during or after sessions for the second album and hitherto scattered among posthumous albums like "Sleepless Nights," "Close Up The Honky Tonks" or the early CD comp "Farther Along/Best Of The Burrito Brothers", and a rarity (featuring and composed by Gene Clark) from another long out of print set also titled "Close Up The Honky Tonks." Thus nearly a full third album's worth of Gram-era gems, most of which show Parsons and Hillman's return to the purer country sound of "Sweetheart," and a fine rare Gene Clark song circa '71. But the "Anthology 1969 - 72" has even more: the inessential-but-listenable third (and first post-Parsons) Burritos album (released 1971), featuring Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke still aboard with Sneaky Pete, but introducing competent pro Rick Roberts in place of erratic genius Parsons; the second disc of this very full set ends with a brace of fine live tracks originally included on "Last Of The Red Hot Burritos", the group's swan song issued in 1972.
Besides twice as much material, the domestically issued set has superior sound and excellent liner notes, graphics, and annotation. So, "Hot Burritons! Anthology 1968 - 72" is the five-star set I'd suggest to anyone interested in this seminal band.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Byrds underwent many line-up changes but the line-up that recorded the classic Sweethearts of the rodeo album didn't last long even by Byrds' standards. Two of its key members, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, quit and formed the Flying Burrito Brothers. This twofer contains their first two albums.
The first album, Gilded Palace of Sin, is regarded as a landmark album in the evolution of country-rock, almost as important as Sweethearts of the rodeo. Despite the label country rock, this album actually contains a few soulful ballads. On this album, the group comprised Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Sneeky Pete Kleinow and Chris Ethridge. Most of the songs are originals, though the album also includes brilliant covers of Dark end of the street and Do right woman.
Even if you haven't heard the Flying Burrito Brothers before, you may be familiar with some of the songs, particularly because Emmylou Harris (a staunch fan of Gram's music) has covered some of these songs � her versions of Wheels and Sin city can be found on her Elite Hotel album. The album begins with the rocking Christine's tune (sometimes titled Devil in disguise, but that confuses it with the Elvis song of that title). Other great tracks here include Juanita and the two Hot Burrito songs.
Burrito Deluxe does not match the exceptional standard of Gilded palace of sin, but it is a far better album than some people would have you believe, and its style is very different. The soulful ballads are gone (apart from Image of me), replaced by rock'n'roll � but that's fine by me. The album was difficult to record, partly because Gram became a bit wayward and partly because of further line-up changes. Chris Ethridge had left, replaced by Bernie Leadon (who went on to greater fame as a member of the Eagles) and Michael Clarke. This album also featured a few guest musicians. Like its predecessor, many of the songs are originals but there are some covers � in this case, the traditional gospel song Farther along, the Rolling Stones' Wild horses and the Bob Dylan classic If you gotta go, which was a huge British hit for Manfred Mann.
Neither of these albums sold well upon original release but their influence has been profound. This collection will appeal to country fans who also enjoy rock music, but will also appeal to many who do not like (or think they do not like) country music, including fans of the Eagles' early work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2006
This two-fer CD gives consumers the opportunity to purchase remastered versions of the first two releases by this seminal band from the late 1960's at a ridiculously affordable price. The two discs were released in 1968 ('Gilded Palace of Sin') and 1969 ('Burrito Deluxe'), and in their later incarnation, the artists involved composed 3/5 of what was once known as 'The Byrds' (guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist Gram Parsons, drummer Michael Clarke, and bassist and vocalist Chris Hillman). This band is often credited with pioneering the Country-Rock genre, although those kudo's must certainly be shared with Roger McGuinn's Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, and myriad other bands who dabbled in the effort. The Flying Burrito Brothers, however, certainly embraced the new, unfolding sound unlike any predecessor. Unfortunately, since youth culture was still thoroughly immersed in the sounds of acid-rock and the emerging heavy-metal genre, devoting entire albums to country-rock spelled disaster for the FBB's. Their debut album sold only 50,000 copies.

Featuring two rhythm guitarists, a steel pedal guitar, and a bassist, along with four session drummers, 'Gilded Palace...' was inclined to sound like nothing previously known in rock parlance. The band walked the line between country and rock, more often emphasizing the country in tunes such as 'Do Right Woman', with it's tight harmonies and sweet steel guitar courtesy of Sneeky Pete Kleinow, and 'Do You Know How It Feels'. Most of the lyrics pursue traditional country music themes, such as love lost ('Hot Burrito #1) with it's Byrd-like chiming guitar sound, or religion, such as a trio of songs from 'Burrito Deluxe', 'Farther Along' ("we'll all understand it in the by and by"), 'God's Own Singer', and 'In the Churchyard'. The Burrito's could be musically adventurous, of course, and such fare can be spotted in tracks such as 'Christine's Tune', which sounds like a precursor to the Eagles' 'Lyin' Eyes', 'My Uncle', an upbeat celebration of draft evasion, which seemingly misappropriates the traditional patriotic sentiments of country music. Two songs resonate with melodies reminicent of Neil Young's 'Old Country Waltz' from his 'American Stars & Bars' album ('Sin City' and 'Image of Me'), while 'Dark End of the Street' and 'Older Guys' (with a massive, pounding bass line from Hillman) sound Eagle-ish. And when listening to 'Juanita', see if you can't hear strains of 'I Like the Christian Life' simmering beneath.

Instrumentally, the Burrito Brothers could be experimental as well. On 'Wheels', a song not surprisingly about goin' mobile, Gram Parsons makes intriguing use of the synthesizer to extract an oversided growl, enlarging on the traditional country sounds supporting it. On 'Hippie Boy', the largely spoken lyrics meander around a dialog between a redneck and a hippie, with the apparent moral of the tale being, "never carry more than you can eat". The shortest track on the disc is the 1:48 cover of Bob Dylan's bouncy 'If You Gotta Go', featuring a rare electric guitar lead from Bernie Leadon, while the longest track (6:20) is the closer, another cover, this time of the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards composition, 'Wild Horses'. The FBB version is not radically different from, nor better or worse than the Stones' version... which is a compliment in itself. 'Man In the Fog' is unique for Leon Russell's piano and accordian-driven melody. One of my favorite Chris Hillman compositions, 'Hot Burrito #2', is given a restrained and lavished production here, which veils it's potential as a great rock and roll number (try to catch a version of this in the able hands of Stephen Stills and Manassas, with Chris on lead vocals... it's a very hot burrito!).

'Gilded Palace of Sin' and 'Burrito Deluxe' possess a historical and musical value that add significant clout to their merit as an artistic piece. Probably half the tunes offered spur associations to classic country-rock excursions that would follow by bands such as Stills' Manassas and the Eagles, and it's fascinating in itself to hear "where it all began". The quality of the musicianship is also without question. The only shortcoming is that some of the music, while revolutionary in the hands of rock and roller's in their prime, is nothing more than traditional country music. Had the band tilted just a bit more in favor of their rock roots, these albums would not only have sold better, but also played better. These are essential recordings for anyone favoring the work of the latter day Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and artists such as Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, and the Eagles.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2006
The first album is very mellow with great harmonies. It sounds like Buck Owens early in his career with the "freight train" songs combined with the late '60s Buck Owens and the finger picking of Don Rich with examples from "Where Does the Good Times Go" "How Long Will My Baby Be Gone" "Sweet Rosie Jones" "I've Got You On My Mind Again" and "Tall Dark Stranger." The second album has more variety from gospel to polka to a Bill Anderson-type song to old school honky tonk. What I mean is "Farther Along" "Man in the Fog" "High Fashion Queen" and "If You Gotta Go." These two albums really knocked me out musically speaking. I wish Country Music now sounded more like this. Really enjoyed it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2006
Gilded Palace of Sin is right up there with Sweetheart of the Rodeo and G.P./Grievous Angel as the best of Gram Parsons' work. This disc presents that album alongside the Bros' second, less transcendent album, Burrito Deluxe. Both albums find Gram doing his thing as usual--country rock when Parsons was the most original name in the game, with some interesting arrangements and usually upper-end songwriting.

The first album included here is a classic, and the main reason for purchasing the CD. A lot of critics say that The Gilded Palace of Sin is Gram's best work ever. It doesn't really matter to me which album of his is ranked as #1--it's pretty arbitrary. No matter which is his very best, it's a really great album. Gram's songwriting (often with the aid of Hillman) is really strong here--from uptempo songs like the opener, "Christine's Song" and the scathing draft-dodging "My Uncle" to midtempo grinders like "Sin City" and "Wheels" (a personal favorite. He's got a knack for fusing genuine country with rock elements and providing some earnest lyrics that often bear his unique, characteristic wit and charm. Covers are well-chosen too; the two R&B tunes, "Do Right Woman" and "Dark End of the Street" fit right in with the straight up country. The two "Hot Burrito" songs are also two of the best, most emotional cuts on this album.

Parsons' sometimes thin voice sounds really good here--he sounds the best when he's singing a well-written song, conjuring a lot of moving emotion (you don't have to have the best voice, as long as you can sing like you really mean it). One of the best things about this album is the arrangements--not only is there some great pedal steel for those hardcore country fans, there's some tasteful keyboards and some real gnarly fuzzed-out electric guitar that lend this album a really unique sound and add a touch of almost psychedelia to the mix. It really adds to the classic status of this one, in my opinion. I can't forget to mention the closing track, a call for peace between hippies and country squares alike, with great spoken-word in the style of many country artists. None of this would work or sound authentic if Gram Parsons didn't really have his heart in it--his genuine delivery prevents the music from seeming tongue-in-cheek. The first album alone is reason enough to buy this CD and I heartily recommend it.

Burrito Deluxe definitely flags in quality in comparison with its predecessor. The songs aren't quite as good--"Older Guys" just seems kind of like a brainless fraternity romp, and "Image of Me" and "God's Own Singer" just aren't very convincingly written or performed (Gram doesn't really sound quite into it). "Lazy Days" is much better as a bonus track on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The covers aren't that great either; "If You Gotta Go" is awkwardly arranged and "Wild Horses," even though the Bros released it before the Stones, drags quite a bit, especially for an album closer. I don't want to rag on it too much, though--the playing is still pretty good, with skillful pedal steel and a solid rhythm section. When Gram is into it ("Farther Along" and "Cody Cody," for example) it approaches the band's superior debut. Unfortunately, the noticeably lackluster songwriting and energy, combined with marginal sound (I was surprised how different the two albums sound in quality on the same CD) makes Burrito Deluxe definitely not an essential release. Fortunately, they're both on the same CD, so Burrito Deluxe works great as a bonus for the iconic Gilded Palace. I strongly recommend this CD and hope you enjoy it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2006
It is even harder to find the FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS second album, BURRITO DELUXE, than it is to find their now acknowledged masterpiece THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN. (There were other Burrito Brothers albums, but not with Gram Parsons). To see all my thoughts regarding the awesome GILDED PALACE OF SIN, see my review for that album, but if you're looking for a buy, this compilation is it. BOTH of the BURRITO BROTHERS albums are here, and as perfect as PALACE is, BURRITO DELUXE can only be underrated: song after wonderful song, one by Dylan, a pair by Gram (Ingram) Parsons and Chris Hillman, and most of the rest by Parsons and bassist Bernie Leadon, are perhaps even more remarkable for their perfect form, even if one after another are simply "thrown out." Of course, the last track by Jagger/Richards predates the ROLLING STONES' own release of "Wild Horses" on their STICKY FINGERS album by nearly a year. Gram Parsons is rumored to actually have "written" the song, but I expect his brilliant kanoodling with pals Mick Jagger and Keith Richards inspired them. The STONES had leant Parsons the song because certainly they felt he had the most authentic voice to sing it with (plans to have Parsons sing it on STICKY FINGERS met the kabash by the STONES' record label). Though I would never deny my love for, or the perfection of, THE GILDED PALACE OF SIN, I cannot praise BURRITO DELUXE any higher than to say it may be my own personal favorite BURRITO BROTHERS album.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2005
This is a two original albums on one CD. These were their first two albums released in 1969 and 1970. The Flying Burrito Brothers were originally formed as an informal group of L.A. musicians, and their story is dominated by several line-up changes.

The first version featured prominent former Byrd-members Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons. With Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Chris Etheridge and various drummers they recorded the highly acclaimed album "The Gilded Palace of Sin". Along with the Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" this album is regarded as one of the first classics in country-rock. Most of the songs are originals written by all band-members with Hilmann and Parsons as the main contributers. It's also their songs that stand out the most though, it's an overall very consistent album with no direct weak tracks. My favourites are the now country classics "Sin City" and "Juanita", and of course the great opening track "Christine's Tune".

For their second album Bernie Leadon ( Eagles ) replaced Etheridge and another former Byrds man, Michael Clarke became their permanent drummer. On this album the role of Gram Parsons seems to be less dominant, and the album is often regarded as a disappointment compared to their debut.
I'm not so sure this is really fair; though, admittedly there are a few pretty dull tracks on it. On the other hand there are some standouts like "Cody Cody" which is probably my favourite on the whole CD. This is the closest they get to the sound of the original Byrds; enjoy Hilmann's harmony vocals! Other great songs are Leadon's "God's Own Singer" and their version of "Wild Horses". The version of "Farther Along" is also fine, though it comes nowhere near the Byrds' version with Clarence White in the foreground.

On the negative side, it ought be mentioned that the "booklet" is very "cheap", with very little information. If you want to check who wrote the songs, you'll have to take out the CD, which is the only place it's listed.

In spite of this, until a better reissue comes, I'll still recommend this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes there is justice in this world. The fact that the Flying Burrito Brothers' music is alive and well at the beginning of the new millenium bodes well for all of us. They were not well known back in 1969 and the early 70s. Their very brief time alloted to them in the film "Gimme Shelter" is indicative of their status in the world of popular music at the time. While they still may not sell a lot of records even today, at least their reputation as great musicians and as a talented group remains intact, and, if anything has grown with time. This collection has all the songs from their first two albums, which, to be truthful, are the only essential recordings by the Burritos. These recordings coincide with the tenure of the very talented singer/songwriter Gram Parsons, who is a legend today. Chris Hillman's contribution to the Burritos are often slighted, but he was a full partern with Parsons in the creation, playing, singing, and songwriting for the group. One could argue that the ying/yang of Parsons/Hillman, trading off roles of wild-emotional/calm-restrained really made the group what it is. They had talented collaborators, too, with the late, great Sneaky Pete on steel guitar, Chris Etheridge on bass for the first album, and Bernie Leaden on guitar for the second. Michael Clarke, like Hillman and Parsons a former member of the Byrds, provided the drumming on the second album. My only complaint about this collection is that the songs are not in the original order, but that's a minor complaint for this well-price offering.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
I love the first album, (more than Sweetheart (although McGuinn's version of "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is still my favorite Dylan cover). If you're a Parsons junkie, it compares favorably with Grevious Angel. We all know that the second album barely rates a mention. The fact that they're both included here as a single album is pretty funny. What puzzles me, however, is how Guilded Palace with all its mystical status, has always been considered a Parsons album. Yes, he was definitely a more flamboyant frontman than Chris Hillman, but the songs were collaborations and great ones at that. Hillman was as important to this album as Parsons was. I had the good fortune of seeing the band live soon after they had formed on a good night. The interplay and harmonies between Parsons and Hillman were fabulous. They put the Eagles, Poco, and later day Byrds to shame. I love Gram, don't get me wrong, but I do hope that Hillman finally gets his do. There are some great songs here. They're the ones from the band's beginnings when the Parsons/Hillman pairing clicked.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2011
"The Gilded Palace of Sin" is one of the best albums ever. It is the Sgt Pepper of modern country music and is brilliant. Also gives Chris Hillman a chance to shine along with great writing, steel guitar and harmonies. Not over-produced and very down to earth.
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