Monday, December 22, 2014
The Dillards Roots and Branches Anthem 1972
It's a bit of stretch to throw the Dillards into this blog, but the connections to Kansas City are there. The band is from Salem, Missouri which is 4 hours East of Kansas City. However, the Dillard brothers worked extensively with Bonner Springs native and Byrd, Gene Clark. The album Dillard & Clark is a tough one to track down and well worth it if you can find it. Further, mandolin player Dean Webb, was from Independence, MO. Overall, just including them for the association with Clark and the proximity, oh, and they're awesome. If I could, I'd also include John Hartford, but haven't figured out how to get him in here...he's undeniably from St. Louis.
Put out in 1972, Roots and Branches, is a bit more polished than the band's earlier work which was released by Elektra. Their early LPs focused on roots driven bluegrass with great vocal harmonies. After leaving Elektra, the band attempted a more commercial sound on this LP. The harmonies are still there, the roots feel is still there, but there are elements of the laid-back California country-rock scene that was prevalent at the time. Still, this is pretty far away from the Eagles. You'll hear similar harmonies, but you have to remember it was the Dillards who first influenced bands like the Eagles; these guys were just trying to cash in on the scene they helped start.
Highlights on the LP include the fuzzed out lead track, "Redbone Hound." The Shel Silverstien cover of "Last Morning," is light, airy, and rural. The rollicking feel of "Get on the Road" can sound a bit disingenuous, but, it's a nice attempt at putting some more rock into the band's countrified sound. The must-hear moment on the LP though is vocal rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow", with all it's hillbilly harmonies.