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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973

Gypsy Cowboy: The New Riders of the Purple Sage CBS SBP 474 o62

Gypsy Cowboy: The New Riders of the Purple Sage CBS SBP 474 o62

Record Reviews

Record Reviews

Despite the mercenary mutterings of a certain general manager to the contrary, Gypsy Cowboy is a far better album than the crock of crap Loggins and Messina served up recently. To put it in perspective, it's also better than their abysmal second effort, Powerglide, but not quite up to the standard attained on their first.

For starters the New Riders have dispensed with the services of their mentor, the Grateful Dead's. Jerry Garcia, but with the capable steel guitar embellishments of their own Buddy Cage and with the temporary addition of Seatrain's Richard Greene and ex-Butterfield sidekick, Mark Naftalin, his abscence is hardly noticed. [You're a bloody namedropper, O'Dea—Ed]

John Dawson and Dave Torbert are still very much in charge of the group's general musical direction, though, even with the outside influences. Between them they wrote nine of the eleven tracks of which all, bar two, can be tagged: "Amusing, but not memorable"

One of the two exceptions is the title cut. It explodes from a brutally distorted electronic introduction into fluid, evocative steel guitar work framing a pertinent lyric. Collective composite genius.

"Do you ever stop ...and think... and wonder why?/ do you remember my friend, how it feels like in the end?/will you/wish you had a friend?/when it all comes round again again?/is part of the lyric of the other exception, "Death and Destruction". It builds slowly through a "Cowgirl in the sand" -type section then Green's scaring violin cuts loose, slicing through the wall of sound; turning the song into a holocaust. All the same, there's nothing really original here. It's all been done before, somewhere. But it's so well thought out and executed, each part meshing together perfectly, that it doesn't matter.

Among the other cuts, probably the old traditional "Long Black Veil" works best, if only because the doomy lyric is delivered with an intensity that will send involuntary shivers up and down your spine. It's till not enough to compensate for a backing that sounds too similar to most of the other numbers, however.