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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Issue 3. 15th March [1976]

Elite Hotel - Emmylou Harris

page 18

Elite Hotel - Emmylou Harris

Word's going around that the gentle simpletons of our fair uni have their ears unpleasantly mis-tuned. I've actually witnessed the word 'Country' producing a response of physical convulsion. Monstrosity of conditioning. The time has come for 10cc of that old hickory wind to be injected into auditory canals everywhere for the Natural High.

So listen.

Emmylou has not been idle since the rude departure of the man who found her and brought her to this world, Georgia Peach Gram. She has already shown herself to be a singer of not only incredible poignancy and power, but also the sweetest passion, on her first solo album 'Pieces of the Sky'.

This album was notable also for superb musicianship throughout, and many of those responsible have contributed on Elite Hotel. There's Ben Keith and Hank diVito sharing the sweet steel work admirably, and Eagles and Flying Burrito Brothers guitar man Bernie, Leadon who also helps out with vocal on 'Feelin Single - Seein' Double'.

Altogether it hangs in very well, though the string arrangements come in a bit heavily at times. They are not used grossly, but anything which hints at dragging someone of Emmylou's capacity down to the pop appeal of Carly Simon churns me up just a mite.

The song writing team is graced with the appearance of Gram Parsons no less than three times, including 'Ooh Las Vegas' which is treated to a really shit-kicking pace, though without quite the vocal vigour of the original version (on which Emmylou backed Gram). That's a track of gambling blues which will give all you pussy-footin punters a glimpse of the perils of time spent with the dealer. The album ends with 'Wheels', another lump in the troat for any who caught the spirit of Gram Parsons before he moved on (have a good listen to 'My Man' on the Eagles album On the Border ).

The other Parsons track 'Sin City' was for me the best of the album on first hearing, but it's fast losing it's hold as the other tracks creep up on me, 'Satan's Jewel Crown' is a heart felt rendition of the temptations of riches and a fundamentalist good will conflict with all the accompanying imagery.

Some of the tracks on side two were recorded live, used to good advantage at the beginning of 'Sweet Dreams' which just flows out of the applause between tracks, and turns into a lover's lament - quite similar to Too Far Gone' on Pieces of the Sky and just as sweetly sad.

You never get too brung down with weepies though, thanks to a lot of good up tempo music to pull you away just when you think your eyes are sinking to belly-button-contem-plation level. The album opens with 'Amerillo', a zippy bitter-sweet tale of a lover whose attentions are lost to the delights of the city (overtones of 'Streets of Baltimore'?), and then there's 'Feelin 'Single-Seein' Double', a good number for yer drinking women. Hank Williams' 'Jambalaya' is given a fresh work-out worthy of its composer, guaranteed to get your sluggish feet coursing with rhythm and your knees a-bobbing.

Perhaps the album hasn't the speed of appeal of Emmylou's first but if you'll give it the chance it'll get you in the end. And where better?

So move your latest Tangerine Dream number into a corner somewhere, preferably in a Kleensak along with the rest of your stone cold intellectual musicianshit, and give emotion a chance.

Good Gracious God, I love it!