Sound — 10
Brewer and Shipley are an outstanding folk duo from the late sixties and this is their second album released in 1969 and is personally my favorite form their whole discography. They are really more underrated musicians that actually remain in somewhat of an obscurity except for a hit like "One Toke Over the Line" famously appearing in Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. The album is produced by Nick Gravenites also known as Nick Gravy who collaborated with famous musicians, helping them write songs like Janis Joplin with Big Brother and The Holding Company and Mike Bloomfield, appearing on The Electric Flag's "Long Time Comin'" in 1968. This album was recorded at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco and produced by Nick Gravenites using the pseudonym "Nicky Gravy."
Lyrics — 10
All songs on here were originality written by Brewer and Shipley except for "All Along the Watchtower" by Dylan and "Witchi-Tai-To" by Jim Pepper taken from a Native American peyote ritual song based around spiritual element water. Gravenites assembled a group of highly respected musicians for the album recording sessions, including guitarist Mike Bloomfield, bassist John Kahn, pedal steel guitarist Red Rhodes, violinist Richard Greene and keyboardists Mark Naftalin and Nicky Hopkins. This album was met with minor success and a small cult following as the song "Witchi-Tai-To" received minor FM airplay, their next album "Tarkio" would be more of a commercial success than this one, but personally I will always love this one and I think it is the best Brewer and Shipley album next to the debut, "Down in LA" and "Tarkio." They have some beautiful renditions of the cover songs they performed and this album remains to be a fine specimen of folk rock and how it was beginning to take off during the late '60s. I listen to country just like I listen to all of the classical music genres like jazz blues and folk along with bluegrass so I really do like the depressing country (derived from the blues) track "Lady Like You," there is always a sad feeling to honky tonk and country in general at least that I've been able to see through, I enjoy a lot of classic music like that for the most part. The track "Witchi-Tai-To" features some great tabla in the mixture and somehow doesn't seem out of place at all, it just fits in like bongos and compliments the song perfectly.
There is some nice country banjo earthy feel to it in tracks like "Boomerang" in simplicity and modesty shining through in a display of some great vocal and general singer/songwriter skills. "People Love Each Other" is a depressing song about love that has some strikingly beautiful poetry on a pessimistic feel but some of the best music is really sad and depressing at least from what I listen to, it has a facade of outright joy because music does sound nice but the underlying meaning and lyrics are still there so sadly especially the subject of love itself being a bit mournful. That slide guitar is there too in bits like "People Love Each Other", and it gives more of that depressive feel and overall an array of skilled musicians like Mike Bloomfield playing electric guitar on here and the whole group work is nice even with some blues harp on "Pig's Head." I'm assuming "Pig's Head" is about the police as the riots were common during that time with the fascist police, quoting "Get off the streets, the killing's begun" and ironically there was a lot of police brutality during their time. Brewer and Shipley are more than capable of writing their own beautiful folk songs that all somehow have a sorrowful undertone that carries on in the blues folk country tradition really just mastered by musicians with beautiful voices and more tabla on "Too Soon Tomorrow," I like how the music throughout is impassioned and somehow touching, like it can brighten your mood just by it having an organic feel. "Witchi-Tai-To" is my favorite and has that sad serious undertone of death right in the lyrics yet somehow reassures someone because it is a more gratuitous song being glad that you're not dead! I just love this album because of all the expression of raw artistic vocals and poetry coming together and blending in a tapestry.
Overall Impression — 10
This album for the most part has an earthy feel and is closely related to The Band in that sense and their self titled album also released the same year in 1969 "The Band" which is still different in a show of different musicians and songwriting but close roots type of bluegrass country moods throughout in a high quality folk rock effort. "Rise Up (Easy Rider)" gives a sort of wild free spirited music that was taking hold at the time sang with more emotional folk passion, I think these guys really made some beautiful music with great songwriting skill, talented vocals and guitar playing I really can't see anything wrong with the whole album, it is a piece of beauty of classic folk rock Americana. The whole album however, is unfortunately really shot and kind of saddening to me but it still is a great album, just too short and I mean that this is a great piece of emotionally passion country/folk rock music. Close to a Simon and Garfunkel type experience but definitively nothing like them except that they are folk, I love both Simon and Garfunkel and Brewer and Shipley just as much as one another but I mean that they are just different as this is more of a country folk roots type of folk rock with bluegrass leanings but still just as nice, very earthy music for sure in somewhat of The Band's style.