April 28, 2017

Fly Through The Country: New Grass Revival

Flying Fish FF-016

Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1975
Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Style: Bluegrass
A1 Skippin' In The Mississippi Dew (2:37)
A2 Good Woman's Love (3:16)
A3 Glory (3:04)
A4 All Night Train (3:12)
A5 Fly Through The Country (5:16)
B1 This Heart Of Mine (2:10)
B2 The Dancer (3:44)
B3 When She Made Laughter Easy (3:16)
B4 Doin' My Time (6:21)
B5 These Days (5:41)
Sam Bush (mandolin/fiddle/guitar/vocals) Curtis Burch (guitar/dobro/vocals) Courtney Johnson (banjo/vocals) John Cowan (bass/vocals) Chuck Cochran (piano)
Directer: Keith Case, Producer: Garth Fundis, Chuck Cochran & Sam Bush, Photographer: The Grease Brothers, Designer: Penny Case
Released in 1975, Fly Through the Country was the New Grass Revival's first album with singer John Cowan and arguably the best album recorded by this incarnation of the group (Sam Bush, Courtney Johnson, and Curtis Burch). It wasn't that the group wouldn't record other memorable albums during the '70s, only that none possessed the spontaneity of Fly Through the Country. There's a sense of everything -- the romantic material, the vocal exuberance, and instrumental dexterity -- falling into place here. The band never seems like it's going out of its way to impress the listener or trying to get things perfect in the studio, as it later would on Barren County in 1979. Instead, the pacing of a song like Steven F. Brines/Bush's "Glory" feels natural and the vocal deeply felt. It's also hard to underestimate the addition of Cowan's vocals on songs like Cy Coben's "Good Woman's Love" and Jackson Browne's "These Days." Surely Bush could've delivered good versions of both of these songs, but Cowan, with his rock & roll background, adds an emotional kick more suitable to the dreamy lyrics of both songs. While guitarist Burch and banjoist Johnson probably never received enough credit for the band's success, it's their instrumental prowess that keeps all of these great vocal performances afloat. Their harmonies were also central to buoying the Revival's high-flying choruses. If anyone was ever curious about how good the New Grass Revival really were, Fly Through the Country is an excellent place to start. (AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.)

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