Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Flying Burrito Brothers

Today’s album is from 1972: Last Of The Red Hot Burritos, the live fourth album by country rock pioneers the Flying Burrito Brothers.  The Burritos were formed, of course, in 1969 by former Byrds Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, along with steel guitarist “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow and bassist Chris Etheridge.  Parsons left after the second album, and he was replaced by guitarist and songwriter Bernie Leadon.  Another ex-Byrd, Michael Clarke, was recruited to keep time on drums.

By the time this album was recorded, Kleinow and Leadon had left the band (Leadon to join the fledgling Eagles), leaving Chris Hillman as the sole founding member.  In their places, Hillman recruited Al Perkins (guitar/steel guitar) and Kenny Wertz (banjo) and added guest musicians Byron Berline (fiddle) and Roger Bush (upright bass) for a 1971 tour.  This lineup toured until Hillman left the band in October, leaving the rights to the band’s name to Rick Roberts.  Once Hillman departed, A&M Records lost faith in the group and instead of allowing a Roberts-led version of the band (with no founding members) to record a new studio album, A&M released this live recording instead which fulfilled the band’s contract before they were subsequently dropped from the label.

Nevertheless, Last Of The Red Hot Burritos is a fiery farewell, and Hillman naturally shifts the focus toward more traditional country and bluegrass.   The record is evenly divided with rocked-up versions of Burrito originals and country standards and pure bluegrass like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Dixie Breakdown.”  And there’s “Don’t Fight It,” a soul standard written by Wilson Pickett/Steve Cropper but turned into a country rocker by the Burritos.

The live versions of Burrito standards like “Hot Burrito No. 2” and “Christine’s Tune (Devil In Disguise)” are excellent.  I like the way “High Fashion Queen” gallops at a rock-and-roll pace, and the war protest tune “My Uncle” sounds great in the hands of these country pickers.  By the time this album made it into the stores, the Flying Burrito Brothers were supposedly no more – even the liner notes say this is their final record.  Last Of The Red Hot Burritos is probably the best album by a band underappreciated in their time.

A group of Burritos led by Rick Roberts would continue to tour Europe with no original members until 1973, then the band was officially dissolved by Roberts, who would go on to be lead singer for Firefall.  Two years later, Etheridge and Kleinow would re-form the Burritos, starting a seemingly endless line of mutations that would last until the 1990s.

MP3: “Losing Game”

MP3: “High Fashion Queen”

MP3: “My Uncle”

MP3: “Don’t Fight It”

MP3: “Dixie Breakdown”

One Response to “Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Flying Burrito Brothers”

  1. Nice review. Don’t forget Al Perkins’ membership in Manassas, alongside Chris Hillman.

    Thanks for the songs. I’m enjoying your site.

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