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Michael Nesmith - Pretty Much Your Standard ranch Stash (LP)

Michael Nesmith - Pretty Much Your Standard ranch Stash (LP)

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Genre: country-rock
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  Pretty Much Your Average Ranch Stash
Company: Pacific Arts
Catalog: PAC 7 117
Year: 1973
Country/State: Houston, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6357
Price: $10.00

So most Monkees fans simply never forgave Michael Nesmith for abandoning bubblegum pop for country-rock. That's unfortunate since over the early years of his post-Monkees career Nesmith released a steady stream of engaging country-rock tinged albums that were easily as good as the kind of stuff better known bands like The The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, or Poco were churning out.

Self-produced and arranged, 1973's "Pretty Much Your Average Ranch Stash" (cute title), found Nesmith returning to a full band attack after stripping down his sound for the previous "And the Hits Keep On Coming". Musically the set offered up another mixture of country-rock tinged Nesmith originals and cover tunes. Divided between a side of originals and a side of covers, the four side one originals simply kicked the crap out of the side two covers which were simply too traditional for my ears. No matter, Nesmith seldom sounded as comfortable, and while most of this stuff will be too country for most folks, there was a real charm to much of the collection. Highlights included getting to hear Nesmith's version of 'Some of Shelly's Blues' and the ballad 'Winonah'.

- Nesmith has always displayed a penchant for songs with heartbreak lyrics and 'Continuing' stood as a classic addition to his catalog. A simply gorgeous country-rock melody that should even appeal to folks who don't like the genre. Robert K. Warford's banjo arrangement at the end of the song was simply to-die-for. rating: **** stars
- Although The Monkees recorded it and then put it on the shelf, most folks will recognize 'Some of Shelly's Blues' as a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit probably not realizing Nesmith wrote it. I'm not sure Nesmith's version will make you forget the hit version (or The Stone Ponies' version), but this take certainly had its share of charm with Nesmith turning in one of those fascinating world weary vocals. One of Nesmith's classic songs. rating: **** stars
- Exhibiting a breezy, slightly jazzy feel, 'Release' may not have been as good as the first two tracks, but I'll readily admit that it was the album's hidden treasure ... yeah another heartbreak lyric. One of Nesmith's best vocals with Orville Rhodes turning in a wonderful pedal steel guitar solo, as did the twin lead guitar line up of Jay Lacy and Robert K. Warford. rating: *** stars
- Side one's most country-oriented number (complete with anti-alcohol lyric "bar rooms are a prison, whiskey is no key ..."), 'Winonah' was also one of the album's prettiest songs. This coming from someone who doesn't have an ear for country music. rating: *** stars
- A straightforward country ballad, 'Born To Love You' was pretty with a nice Nesmith vocal performance, but way too country for my tastes. rating: ** stars
- Clocking in at over eight minutes, 'The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea' was a two part medley that sounded like a rehearsal for Hee Haw.
- 'The F.F.V' (the acronym stood for Fast Flying Vestibule), was based on a traditional folk song also known as "Engine 143" and "The Wreck On The C&O". In case anyone cared, the song commemorated an October 1890 train wreck. Nesmith gave the song a spoken word arrangement that simply didn't do much for me. rating: ** stars- The cover of Bill Monroe's 'Uncle Pen' was somewhat more enjoyable, but again was a straightforward bluegrass tune that served to give his backing band an opportunity to shine. rating: ** stars
- The album ended with a cover of Billy Hill's 'Prairie Lullaby'. Again, quite pretty, but unless you felt a need to hear Nesmith yodel (seriously), I'd suggest you pass. rating: ** stars

So what you get is half of an album that was great and half of an album that probably had little appeal to anyone other than country fans.

"Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Continuing (Michael Nesmith) - 3:55
2.) Some of Shelly's Blues (Michael Nesmith) - 3:21
3.) Release (Michael Nesmith) - 3:49
4.) Winonah (Michael Nesmith - Linda Hardgrove - James Minor) - 3:56

(side 2)
1.) Born To Love You (Cindy Walker) - 3:55
2.) The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea - 8:19
a.) The F.F.V. (traditional - arranged by Michael Nesmith) -
b.) Uncle Pen (Bill Monroe) -
3.) Prairie Lullaby (Billy Hill) - 4:12
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