The Gilded Palace of Sin
The Flying Burrito Brothers were formed by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman after they left the Byrds, to pursue Parsons’ vision of “Cosmic American Music”. It took me a long time to appreciate The Gilded Palace of Sin – although it’s classified as country-rock, it has a lot more traditional country than the more commercial artists like the Eagles who followed in Parsons’ wake. There are elements of rock, ‘Hot Burrito #2’ is cranking and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow’s fuzz toned Pedal Steel gives the album some edge, while there’s soul in the covers of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Do Right Woman’ and James Carr’s ‘Dark End of the Street’, but the dominating impression is Hillman and Parsons harmonising over acoustic guitars.
Thematically it’s often traditional – ‘Sin City’ is all Biblical fire and brimstone – or firmly based in the 1960s, with the draft avoidance of ‘My Uncle’ and the Chicago riots documented on ‘Hippie Boy’. But if you can get past all of this, there are a ton of great songs on Gilded Palace and it’s rightfully considered a classic of its genre. Bassist Chris Ethridge penned ‘Hot Burrito #2’, a phenomenal rock/country hybrid, while there’s beautiful acoustic material like ‘Sin City’ and ‘Juanita’.
It’s not flawless, and it’s arguably more dated to a specific time than any of Parsons’ other projects, but The Gilded Palace of Sin is still a seminal piece of country-rock.