Flying Burrito Brothers Hot Burritos! Anthology 1969-1972

While Gram Parsons' two solo albums recorded near his death in 1973 are justly lauded for his maturity as a singer/songwriter, his real impact as a country-rock pioneer came with the Burritos, the band he formed with Chris Hillman after both left the Byrds following the historic Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. Anthology 1969-1972 presents the band's first two albums together in their entirety for the first time, along with the Parsons-less eponymous album and well-known outtakes. The intention is obviously to give this work the respectful treatment it deserves, and it's hard to argue with having everything together in one package. The Burritos were a band in constant flux and much of their appeal lies in hearing them consciously break new ground, often from song to song. The first album, The Gilded Palace Of Sin, contains the most happy accidents, from Sneaky Pete Kleinow's ragingly distorted pedal steel to Parsons' transformation into a Southern soul crooner on "Dark End Of The Street" and his immortal "Hot Burrito #1 (I'm Your Toy)." The follow-up, Burrito Deluxe, was less barnstorming, with Hillman switching back to bass to make room for future Eagle Bernie Leadon and Parsons coming off as less of a presence. Time spent with the Stones seems to have also dominated his approach with "The Older Guys" crying out for Keef's shaky hand and "Wild Horses" getting the jump on Sticky Fingers. Yet, it was clear Parsons was somewhere else, resulting in him soon being replaced by Rick Roberts, whose laid back style threatened to turn the Burritos into Poco. However, it is on this later work that Hillman comes into his own to save the day, retaining the balance between honky-tonk and flat-out rock on Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever" and Dylan's "To Ramona." However, most importantly, the remarkable trip of this crucial band can now be experienced in one sitting. You cannot call yourself an alt-country fan without knowing these songs. (Universal)