Rick Nelson – Garden Party – Our Shootout Winner from 2010


A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

UNBELIEVABLE TUBEY ANALOG MAGIC on this very fun Rick Nelson album. Who woulda thunk it? We went through a big stack of these and couldn’t believe the wonderful DEMO QUALITY sound we heard on the best copies. It’s PURE AUDIOPHILE GOLD!

If you like the sound of albums engineered by Stephen Barncard (think Deja Vu, American Beauty and Tarkio for starters) then you are going to find much to like about the sound of this one. The country-tinged opening track, complete with pedal steel guitar, sounds amazing on a copy like this.

But, of course, not all copies sound have this kind of magic in the grooves. Many of them are overly tubey to the point of thickness, others get stuck in the speakers, and a good number of them are bright and spitty.

Both sides here are As Good As It Gets, A+++, the best we played in our whole shootout. The presence and immediacy is STAGGERING, and the transparency went beyond our expectations for a tubey recording like this. The rich, round bass and lush acoustic guitars will remind you why we’re all into vinyl — no CD ever made will sound quite like this!

The music is quite enjoyable — even the younger guys around here were getting a lot out of it. Drop the needle on the title track (a top ten single) or “Are You Really Real?” to hear these guys at their best. Rick’s Stone Canyon Band at times featured future members of Poco and The Eagles, so that should tell you something.


Side One

Let It Bring You Along
Garden Party
So Long Mama
I Wanna Be With You
Are You Really Real?

Side Two

I’m Talking About You
Night Time Lady
Flower Opens Gently By
Don’t Let Your Goodbye Stand
Palace Guard

AMG  Review

Rick Nelson’s Garden Party album rocks a lot harder than the title track would lead one to believe, and is also as much of a showcase for the Stone Canyon Band as it is for Nelson. Allen Kemp’s lead guitar crunches and grinds its notes on the opening track, the edgy “Let It Bring You Along,” before we hear the familiar, laid-back, country-rock strains of “Garden Party.” The jaunty “So Long Mama” follows, dominated by Nelson’s rhythm guitar and showcasing Tom Brumley’s pedal steel guitar, and then Kemp and the rhythm section of Stephen A. Love (bass) and Patrick Shanahan (drums) move to the fore on the pounding “I Wanna Be With You.” Nelson slips into a completely different mode on the ethereal, understated “Are You Really Real?” The original’s second side opened with a solid rendition of Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You,” which offers Kemp in a somewhat jazzy and discursive break. The playing is more subdued and lyrical on Nelson’s own “Night Time Lady,” and the bluesy “Flower Opens Gently By,” and the album ends on the soft, bittersweet ballad “Palace Guard.”