For a guy who's been credited as the godfather of "cosmic country," Gram Parsons hasn't exactly been well represented when it comes to concert recordings. This goes for his solo work as well as the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, two of the most influential ensembles of which he was a member. Aside from an obscure posthumous album featuring his solo band, the Fallen Angels, Parsons's live offerings have been few and far between.
Leave it, then, to fledgling Amoeba Records — spun from California's exceptional indie record retail outlets of the same name — to debut with a double disc featuring two previously unreleased live sets by the Burritos at San Francisco's famed Avalon Ballroom in 1969.
This handsome package (which also includes two early, unreleased Parsons demos) leaves little doubt the Burritos were already navigating a new divide between rock and country. Parsons, who succumbed to an overdose nearly 35 years ago, would never see that trail make its way to the masses via followers like Ryan Adams, Son Volt, the Jayhawks, and practically every outfit operating out of Austin or Nashville these days. Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969 confirms the role he played in paving its beginning.
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