A welcome and rare capture of Gram Parsons, along with Emmylou Harris, live back in 1973.
Unearthed 50 years after it was recorded, ‘The Last Roundup’ is a rare live capture of Gram Parsons and his Fallen Angels Band on their short tour promoting his solo debut album ‘GP’ in 1973. Towards the end of the tour they played Philadelphia and, according to pedal steel player Neil Flanz, it was one of the better shows so far and he blagged a cassette copy from the soundboard. That cassette somehow came into the hands of Amoeba Music and languished there for a couple of decades. Now, spruced up for sound quality, the album gets a vinyl only Record Store Day release (although it’s possible it might be more widely available thereafter).
Aside from a live radio broadcast (recorded just three days earlier in Long Island and released and then re-released many times over) this is your only chance to hear Parsons, along with the then pretty much unknown Emmylou Harris sing together in a live setting along with The Fallen Angels (Neil Flanz on pedal steel, Kyle Tullis, bass, Jock Barkley, guitar and ND Smart II on drums). It is a time capsule of course and despite modern studio gimmickry the sound portrays its origins as a humble cassette recording. Having said that, the voices of the central pair ring out, especially on what has come to be considered their signature song, the precious harmonies of ‘Love Hurts’ which is given a fine performance here. It’s also quite a privilege to hear Harris join in on a tremendous performance of The Burrito’s ‘Sin City’ which is quite moving and not to be heard anywhere elsewhere as far as your reviewer can ascertain.
Harris is more than a vocal foil on a couple of the songs, taking the lead on covers of ‘Country Baptising’ and ‘Jambalaya’, but most of the set consists of songs from ‘GP’ along with a couple of Flying Burrito Brothers songs. Hearing Parsons and Harris run through songs such a ‘We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes’, ‘My Uncle’ and ‘Streets Of Baltimore’ and, especially, ‘The New Soft Shoe’, is to imagine what the pair might have achieved had Parsons not left the planet just months after this was recorded.
Delivered as it is, warts and all, the album flows well throughout with Parsons and Harris’s introductions captured and the loose limbed and raucous rock’n’roll medley which closes the album allows that they were having a great time on stage. A must for Gram Parsons fans and a worthy addition to his legacy.