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The Ballad of Calico

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Showing 1-25 of 45 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 14, 2011 6:24:36 AM PDT
R. Carter says:
Have any of you ever heard "The Ballad of Calico," a little-known concept album by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition from the early '70's? If not, you have missed a real treat! "Calico" is nothing at all like other Kenny Rogers or First Edition releases. It is, in my opinion, brilliant from start to finish. The album was the creation of Michael (Martin) Murphey, who had a big hit around that time with "Wildfire" and later scored a number of country hits. Each member of the First Edition sang solos as they told the story of a silver town called Calico. I pray for the day when this recording is finally made available again, perhaps in a deluxe fortmat with the original lyric book and new liner notes included. I would love to hear if any of you have experienced "The Ballad of Calico."

Posted on Jul 14, 2011 7:50:03 AM PDT
R. Carter,
Never heard but you've piqued my interest. Was it on Reprise? Perhaps it's a project Rhino Handmade might pursue.

Posted on Jul 14, 2011 8:26:43 AM PDT
R. Carter says:
Yes, it was on Reprise... a two album set that came with a booklet. I consider it among my all-time favorite records. It was definitely a concept album... not very commericial...but extremely entertaining. There are mp3 downloads of these tracks on the web, but the entire album has never been released on CD or in any other format since the LP was out. It did not sell very well and was not in print for long.

Posted on Jul 14, 2011 10:15:28 AM PDT
ED S. says:
I have been to Calico. It is in the Mojave desert about three hours from my house here in Los Angeles County. It is in a beautiful area of the Mojave. It is a restored ghost town. Believe it or not, much of Calico was dissasembled and rebuilt as a theme park called Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California about 20 minutes from my house. I have been there dozens of times. I am listening to music from the album right now and it sounds very conceptual and interesting.
Though Calico is just a shadow of its former self, it is in a beautiful setting and the Mojave Desert is a magical place. I have backpacked in the Mojave several times and the beauty and colors of this land is incredable. At night, you are seranaded by dozens of nocturnal Coyotes 'till sunrise.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2011 6:03:07 PM PST
K. Evans says:
Got this album from my best friend's sister - autographed by Michael Martin Murphey himself - when I was about 12. I have loved it for the last 40 years. Been trying to find another copy online but they are few and far between and oh-so-expensive. I have an old MMM album with a slightly different version of "Calico Silver" and it's great - but not as great. I agree with your assessment that it is brilliant. A concept album like no other I have ever heard.

Posted on Jan 10, 2012 12:27:39 PM PST
One of the best! Hard to listen to one or two songs without breaking down and listening to the whole thing.Pratically the entire album was performed (lipped) on the First Edition's tv show "Rollin On the River". I've been email friends with Mickey Jones the drummer for the First Edition for a few years, and he doesn't think it will ever be released on CD. Another note, he told me that they performed the entire album live only one time, with a full orchestra, but it was not recorded or video taped.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2012 1:44:18 PM PST
R. Carter says:
Why does Mickey Jones feel "Calico" will never be issued on CD? What do we have to do to get one of re-issue companies interested? Any idea who we could write to at Rhino, Varese Sarabande, Charley, Tarragon, etc??? Surely someone knows what an incredible recording this was.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2012 9:49:15 AM PST
I was fortunate to see Michael Murphy do the entire album live at SMU in the early 70s. His band at the time included Gary P Nunn and Mickey Raphael.

Posted on Mar 10, 2012 9:01:56 PM PST
Hinch says:

Posted on Mar 11, 2012 9:17:05 PM PDT
Rhino would be the best as usual... But I think it's the usual "who owns the tapes" issue, and would it be profitable.
He insists it will never be released on CD.

Posted on May 1, 2012 3:40:13 PM PDT
M. Lynch says:
Ballad of Calico is one of my favorite albums. Top 10 for sure. For those of you that do own it, does your copy have the end of Dorsey The Mail Carrying Dog at the beginning of Side 3?

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 7:52:17 PM PDT
Yep, that's how they did it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 4:59:59 PM PDT
Just for the record, Calico as well as Wildfire were co-written by Larry Cansler, who composed the music. I know this because that's me! You can Google Wildfire and you will see that there are two writers.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 5:01:22 PM PDT
Just for the record, Calico as well as Wildfire were co-written by Larry Cansler, who composed the music. I know this because that's me! You can Google Wildfire and you will see that there are two writers.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 7:37:35 PM PDT
Pleased to meet you Larry!
My wish is that someone would convince a label (maybe Rhino, or Sundazed) to give Calico it's due. Mickey Jones seemed very sure that it would not be released on CD. There is a lot of chatter on the internet about the album, and a lot of people are discovering it because of the internet. Mickey was kind enough to send me a copy of the "Rolling on the River" videos on DVD. It puts the whole project into perspective. Nowadays you'd be hard fast to find a record company that would even consider a double album concept piece like Calico. We need to finds a way to get it remastered and released on CD!

Posted on May 17, 2012 9:06:59 PM PDT
Thanks, Jeffrey! Perhaps Mickey has some insight that I don't, but I doubt it. Apparently there is some confusion over who has the total publishing rights, although thankfully I do get my royalties every three months from Cherry Lane, so obviously they have some piece of the pie. I, too, think that it should be rereleased and that's not just ego. I think that ninety percent of it still stands up and that says a lot about something like that written over forty years ago. It was a labor of love for me and the First Edition. It was the most creative time I spent with the group and I still have the fondest memories of us cutting the tracks and laying down the vocals in a marathon two week stint at Glazer Bros. studio in Nashville. I think I averaged four hours of sleep a night during that period, but I loved every moment of it. After that we took the tracks to LA and I added the orchestra, which as a composer and orchestrator was a personal kick for me.

I'm thrilled that it still gets response from people all over the globe. I'm very proud of the project and proud of all of us who were involved; Murph, Kenny, Terry, Kin, Mary, Mickey, John Hartford, and so many others. It was a creative high-water mark for all of us.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 9:50:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 17, 2012 9:51:05 PM PDT
That was a last minute joke when we were recording the tracks. Perhaps not the best joke ever, but to us it was funny at the time.

Larry Cansler

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 11:08:56 AM PDT
M. Lynch says:
It's still very funny. My hope was that it was done on purpose.
Congrats to you for being a part of/creating such an incredible album.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 9:33:31 PM PDT
BB says:
arf arf heh heh. Yes, just listened to it. Got my hands on a sealed unopened copy on ebay last year for FIVE DOLLARS, Grabbed it fast, I tell you! I just opened for the first time because I bought the Quick Play flash record player & transferred to flash drive, little record player that goes direct to flash and then Itunes. I was waiting for a recorder to play it. Unfortunately it is mildly warped - but once it gets to the 2nd song in or so, it's perfect. i must find a way to straighten it out and play it a second time - it is my all time favorite album and so many songs I had forgot. I'm so jazzed. I'll put it away afterwards and not play it again.

Any suggestions on how to unwarp this vinyl? Talk about your carrying dog!

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 9:38:09 PM PDT
BB says:
Larry - as far as I'm concerned, you and MMM are the best there is. I love this album so much that I just spent $79 for a flash burning record player to get it into my computer and am listening to it right now. I've wanted it for so long...Somehow this needs to be made available as a digital remaster. It's so awesome.

This is a true work of art. How about a live play/performance????

Posted on May 29, 2012 9:43:52 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 30, 2012 3:35:44 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 1:30:32 AM PDT
This double vinyl set is a true American classic. I'm so glad my copy is in the pristine condition like the day I bought it....a great album of music in a keepsake package. Even way back when (and then) I thought this highly "visual" tune set could easily make the transition to the Broadway stage like many other concept albums and pop collections. It really deserves a first class premiere on compact disc as it is a remarkable piece of American Musical Heitage. At least issue an iTunes release to expand awareness of the masterpiece.

Posted on Oct 8, 2012 7:34:47 AM PDT
R. Carter says:
It excites me to see the love people have for "The Ballad of Calico." I clearly remember the day I got my copy. I was 9 years old. Schools in our small town were closed that day due to a snowstorm. I walked the 4 or 5 block from home to the local record shop, all bundled up in my coat, hat, and mittens, to see what new releases had arrived. They had received 2 copies of the "Calico" album, and I got one of them. I carefully walked back home in the snow and spent the entire afternoon listening to that record, over and over again. It instantly became one of my all-time favorite albums, right up there with "Abbey Road" (Beatles), "Where Did Our Love Go" (Supremes), "Sunflower" (Beach Boys), and the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music," and "The Ballad of Calico" has remained atop that list ever since. How I wish someone would re-master and re-issue it on CD! I dream of a nice CD boxed set, complete with a reproduction of the original booklet and loads of new liner notes! I dream... I dream... I dream...

Posted on Oct 8, 2012 8:03:45 AM PDT
R. Carter says:

I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed:

""The Ballad of Calico""

Posted on Oct 9, 2012 5:29:53 PM PDT
A. Vernon says:
Had it on vinyl. Great songs/tales.

Many times have I been humming absent-mindedly, then started singing, "No rain and the weather got warm ..."
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Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  20
Total posts:  45
Initial post:  Jul 14, 2011
Latest post:  Jul 9, 2014

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