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Michawl Nesmith - Loose Salute (LP)

Michawl Nesmith - Loose Salute (LP)

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Genre: country-rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Loose Salute
Company: RCA
Catalog: LSP 4415
Year: 1970
Country/State: Houston, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6354
Price: $10.00

Of the four Monkees, Michael Nesmith seemed to be the one most anxious to escape the band's shadow. As a result, he wasted no time setting up his post-Monkees career with the establishment of The First National Band. Nesmith and drummer were long time friends and Ware was apparently the driving force behind forming the band, along with keyboardist Glen Hardin, long time song writing partner/bassist John London, and pedal steel guitarist Orville Rhodes.

Released just a few months after the band's debut "Magnetic South", 1970's self-produced "Loose Salute" served to showcase the sheer volume of material Nesmith had written and sometimes recorded during his Monkees career. Musically the album wasn't a major change from the debut, Nesmith and company continued their exploration of early-1970s country-rock. Like the debut, this wasn't an album that was likely to appeal to hardcore Monkees fans (okay they might have gotten off on the countrified version of 'Listen To the Band'), but then that wasn't what Nesmith was looking to do. At the other end of the spectrum, anyone who enjoyed The Byrds country-rock excursions, or the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco was liable to find this endearing. Nesmith was always the Monkees forgotten voice and on this set he sounded like he was finally enjoying the freedom of his post-Monkee life. Calm and self-assured, the results were thoroughly enjoyable

- With an interesting Caribbean lilt 'Silver Moon' stands as one of the best things Nesmith ever wrote and as one of the album's standout performances. Highly commercial, it was tapped as a single, though its hard to fathom why this one wasn't a major commercial success. rating: **** stars
- While it wasn't about to make you forget the Patsy Cline classic version, Nesmith's cover of 'I Fall To Pieces' was decent enough. Rhodes' pedal steel work was worth hearing. rating: ** stars
- 'Thanx for the Ride' was a classic example of a Nesmith tune that started out in low gear and got better as it went along. Helped in no small part by Rhodes pedal steel, what started off as a melancholy ballad actually ended up generating quite a bit of energy - it actually sounded like something Nesmith would have tried to slip on to a Monkees album. rating: *** stars
- Nesmith's heart was clearly into country-rock, but 'Dedicated Friend' was worthwhile since it found him putting the emphasis on the genre's rock component. Besides, with a great little hook and a reference to a Chevy, it was radio-ready. rating: **** stars
- An unreleased Monkees-era tune originally entitled 'Carlise Wheeling', 'Conversations' was side one's lone disappointment. A pretty, but forgettable acoustic ballad ... rating: ** stars- Opening up with African-flavored percussion that Peter Gabriel would have gratefully jumped on, 'Tengo Amore' was a wonderful experiment. Morphing into a Latin-rock number complete with Spanish lyrics this one rocked as hard as anything in Stephen Stills' Manassas catalog. For some reason one of my favorite performances and one of the album's surprise successes ... Shame it ended so abruptly. rating: **** stars
- 'Listen To the Band' was one of Nesmith's classic Monkees tunes, so it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that this country-rock version was actually very enjoyable. The weird fade-in start was a curiosity and this was another one where you were left to wish the song had been a little longer ... rating: **** stars
- No idea if the lyrics were autobiographical, but powered by John London's bass and a stunning Rhodes pedal steel solo, 'Bye, Bye, Bye' was a surprisingly impressive country-rocker. rating: *** stars
- A pretty pedal-steel propelled ballad, 'Lady of the Valley' was one of those tracks that grew on you the more you heard it, though Nesmith sounded like he'd recorded the lead vocal in a bathroom stall. I had no idea he had such a high falsetto in his vocal arsenal ... rating: *** stars
- The album's oddest song, 'Hello Lady' started out with an almost funky flavor, before shifting into a decent pop song and then morphing into a horn-propelled rocker. Weird, but engaging. rating: *** stars.

As mentioned, the album was tapped for a single in the form of:

- 1970's 'Silver Moon' b/w 'Lady of the Valley' (RCA catalog number RCA 74-0399)

Not an album I play often, but one I've kept in my collection for years and when I get a hankering for country-rock I'm as liable to reach for this one as Gram Parsons or other better known country-rock exponents.

For some odd reason RCA marketing decided to send the band on a UK tour. Needless to say, that didn't little to support American sales, though based on the modest success of the 'Silver Moon' single, the parent album hit # 159 on the US charts.

"Loose Salute" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Silver Moon (Michael Nesmith) - 3:15
2.) I Fall To Pieces (Hank Cochran - Harlan Howard) - 2:56
3.) Thanx for the Ride (Michael Nesmith) - 2:48
4.) Dedicated Friend (Michael Nesmith) - 2:27
5.) Conversations (Michael Nesmith) - 3:27

(side 2)
1.) Tengo Amore (Michael Nesmith) - 3:00
2.) Listen To the Band (Michael Nesmith) - 2:35
3.) Bye, Bye, Bye (Michael Nesmith) - 3:17
4.) Lady of the Valley (Michael Nesmith) - 32:57
5.) Hello Lady (Michael Nesmith) - 3;49
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