Ian Tyson Ol' Eon

The reissue of Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s groundbreaking 1969 country rock experiment Great Speckled Bird five years ago was a revelation. No longer could it be claimed that Gram Parsons was alone in developing the genre; our own cowboy balladeer could do it just as well as the Burrito Brothers could. Now comes a reissue of Tyson’s first album without Sylvia from 1973, a work that shows that while the fire of Great Speckled Bird had died down significantly, Tyson was still at the height of his songwriting prowess. Actually, his exposure at the time was probably at an all-time high too, given that he was hosting his own weekly variety show on CTV, the theme song of which is Ol’ Eon’s opening track, "Some Kind Of Fool.” While I’d be afraid to watch any of those old episodes, Ol’ Eon’s production values hold up surprisingly well. Long-time Gordon Lightfoot sidemen Red Shea and Pee Wee Charles add appropriately subtle touches throughout and Tyson’s voice is warm and rich on tales of regret like "Lord, Lead Me Home” and "The Girl Who Turned Me Down.” A highlight is also "The Great Canadian Tour,” a reminiscence of the legendary train journey Tyson was a part of in ’69 with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and others. A great piece of Canadiana. (Stony Plain)