Poco – Rusty, George, Tim, Richie and Jim
Listen/Download – Poco – Hurry Up
I hope the commencement of another groovy seven day cycle sees you all in a good place (physically, spiritually etc).
I’ve discussed the concept of the record collection – once it has achieved a certain ungainly size – becoming something of a living and breathing entity.
While I don’t get out to dig as much as I used to, I don’t really need to anymore since as I write this I find myself surrounded my records (large and small) that seem – in spite of impossibility – to be verily pulsating and closing the narrow gap that remains between us.
If I ever really want to listen to something ‘new’, all I need to do is dip down into the existing crates, where I will find records not-yet-listened-to, or unjustly neglected, whether it be an overlooked LP track or 45 b-side.
Today’s selection is one of those records I picked up on a whim from the dollar-bin a while back and for a variety of reasons never took the time to listen to.
A few weeks back I was putting some records away from a recent DJ gig and happened upon this particular LP and pulled it out so it would be neglected no more.
Good thing too, since I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ll say it again; aside from Arthur Lee and Love, my all-time favorite US band from the 60s was the Buffalo Springfield.
I’ve been a huge fan since I first picked up a well-worn copy of the ‘Retrospective’ collection at the local flea market when I was in my teens, and have absorbed their music as deeply as just about any band, including the Beatles.
The given, at least as I saw it, was that the Springfield was really the stage for the eternal creative struggle between Stephen Stills and Neil Young, with Richie Furay – while very talented – inhabited a second tier of sorts.
I was well aware that Furay had founded Poco after the dissolution of the Buffalo Springfield, but – despite being a big fan of nascent LA country rock – never really explored their music.
So, when I sat down to record the group’s second album ‘Poco’ (from 1970) I am not overstating the case when I tell you that it caused me to drastically reconsider my assessment of the balance of power within the Springfield.
Formed in 1968, with Furay and Jim Messina from the Buffalo Springfield, and Randy Meisner, Rusty Young and George Grantham coming from two different Colorado bands (Meisner from the Poor, Young and Grantham from Boenzee Cryque), the group originally called themselves Pogo, until threatened with legal action by the creator of that cartoon character, Walt Kelly.
They changed their name to Poco, and recorded their first album in 1969.
There were a lot of different brands of ‘country’ bouncing around LA in the late 60s, with varying degrees of purist sentiment, pop content and rock drive, coming from artists as diverse as the Byrds, the Monkees and Rick Nelson (Meisner would join his band after departing Poco).
Poco managed to carry on a good deal of the Buffalo Springfield sound, instrumentally and vocally, mixing in a dash of Bakersfield as well.
The tune I bring you today, ‘Hurry Up’ is my favorite from the ‘Poco’ LP. Written by Furay, the song has enough Sunset Strip left in it to be mistaken for a Buffalo Springfield outtake. The harmonies sound as if lifted from any of the Springfield’s three LPs with Furay ably assisted by Timothy B. Schmidt (late of the New Breed, later of the Eagles) who had by this time replaced Meisner.
The Buffalo Springfield comparison is especially apt since on this track (and many of the others) Poco manages to take a basic, late 60s LA rock vibe and augment, but never obscure it with the addition of a certain amount of country flavor.
Like the Flying Burrito Brothers (who had Sneaky Pete Kleinow), Poco had the good luck to find a visionary pedal steel player in Rusty Young. Young had the ability to work in the ‘standard’ style of the instrument, as well as the imagination and skill to bend it into unusual new shapes (that organ sound in ‘Hurry Up’ is Young’s pedal steel).
The big question that comes up for me, is why Poco didn’t have the success of the Eagles. My best guess is that the Eagles had a certain pop accessibility that the majority of their competitors lacked. This is not to say that Poco couldn’t write great songs, but rather that they were more of a rock band – with all the good things that come with the name – than the Eagles were (until Joe Walsh popped into the mix), rendering them – like the Buffalo Springfield – sometimes too sophisticated for their own good. A song like ‘Anyway Bye Bye’ has more subtle twists and turns in it than any whole album by the Eagles.
That said, I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all next week.