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Louisiana Rain, CD (£11.50)
Here at Ace, one can often feel as though you are on a crusade not only to entertain, but also enlighten the reissue-buying public, and accord some overdue respect to those whose names are but strands in rock's rich tapestry. As a longtime Byrd fancier I have always been fascinated by the feathered folk rockers various offshoots-.-and generally I dig an overt country flavour within rock'n'roll, whether it be rebel-raw rockabilly, Beatles For Sale", or the gospel according to Gram Parsons. The Byrds and the Burritos get the recognition as the founders of country rock and rightly so, but I knew there were others whose trailblazing work lay obscured, like these intriguing 1967 recordings by the other Parsons, Gene, and his then musical-cohort Floyd 'Gib' Guilbeau. They were produced by the maverick genius Gary S Paxton (see Skip & Flip, Hollywood Argyles, Monster Mash and a thousand lesser known gems) for his Bakersfield International label, a vital if little-heralded outpost in the development of country rock.
LOUISIANA RAIN is the first time this fascinating, academically important yet hugely enjoyable country/folk-rock material has been issued on CD. At the time of these recordings, Gib (on guitar and vocals) and Gene (drums, banjo, harmonica and any other instrument you care to mention) were part of Paxton's regular session crew, in addition to performing nightly at the bars and honky tonks of southern California with the Reasons/Nashville West-.-the legendary combo that also featured bassist Wayne Moore and the groundbreaking guitar of Clarence White. Parsons and White of course would shortly join the Byrds, bringing with them the Guilbeau/Parsons tune Your Gentle Ways Of Loving Me, included on "Dr Byrds & Mr Hyde", although they always felt the original, as featured here, was far superior.
That says a lot about the sorely underrated songwriting talent of Guilbeau, who would later work with Linda Ronstadt, Swampwater and the Flying Burrito Brothers. The collection features early, yet classic, Guilbeau on cuts like Sweet Suzannah (later covered by Kris Kristofferson), Workin' On A Tugboat and Woman's Disgrace - a classy, hip country sound with added cajun spice. The many additional tracks include outtakes and home demos drawn from Gib and Gene's archives, plus rare related recordings - Guilbeau's 1969 single on Strawberry, Home Of The Blues/Lodi, and Bruce E Oakes' On Pins & Needles, both of which feature the Nashville West band. There is also the bonus of early folk-rock experiments like World Of Dreams and I'm A Fool, and the beans get fully spilled in the liner notes - correcting many of the misconceptions and half-truths out there concerning this fascinating slice of pop music history.
Researching this project saw your compiler travel many miles across the US to talk to a lot of different folks, not to mention spend countless hours sifting through hundreds of tapes. In the process I gained an enormous respect for these humble musicians - who all remain close - and their work, and began to realize how important their contribution was to the development of the California country rock scene. Rather than being longhaired dopers or starstruck Hollywood city slickers, Gib, Gene, Clarence and the rest of the Bakersfield International collective emerged decisively from the country side of the country/rock amalgam, and their music was less cynical and more innocently joyous for that.
(Of course, the perks of undertaking such an endeavour are worth their weight in gold, especially for a self-proclaimed groupie like myself: whether they be talking turkey with the great Gary Paxton as he helped me transfer tapes, getting to play bass on several cuts for Gib's forthcoming Beautown Records release "Songs I Like", or jamming on stage with three quarters of the Nashville West band at Gibs 65th birthday bash in Vegas last month. I can now die a happy man.)
by Alec Palao"