It’s retro Friday and here is Americana royalty, The Flying Burrito Brothers. This is, of course, from the classic debut album, ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’. Though not a commercial success at the time, it was critically well-received for the way the band blended country, folk, rock, psychedelia and other genres. Countless artists since would cite The Flying Burrito Brothers as an influence. What makes this wonderful song and video performance stand out is the emotional vocal delivery from Gram Parsons. Iconic.
Americana royalty, absolutely; from a classic album, without question; a wonderful song, couldn’t agree more; but the video ‘performance’ c’mon ! This is an illustration of one of the reasons the that Burritos never achieved the commercial success that their music deserved. They are infamous for blowing their live shows, especially when there was a lot riding on it, and this clip (which has been around for decades) falls into that couldn’t care less category.
It’s obviously mimed (I can accept that from the period) but Sneaky Pete aside they’ve not even made an effort. Chris Hillman is visible only from way below the neck and then only briefly, behind Pete. (For those who don’t know he’s in the blue Nudie suit playing a Telecaster.) I reckon he’s probably glad of the relative anonymity here. Chris Ethridge and Michael Clarke have swapped instruments and Clarke looks like he’s trying to wrestle an alligator having had the proverbial “couple”, which was very probably the case. Gram just hams it up with the shades and jacket moves. Oh, how droll. Humour’s great and with mimed performances there’s definitely a place for it but this most soulful, heartfelt and beautiful song is simply demeaned by this.
Chris Hillman’s frustration over the band’s lack of professionalism has been widely reported and this shows you just what he means.
I bow to nobody in my affection for the Burritos but this clip is just awful.