Poco’s second album is an unusual blend of country-rock, with some long, jazzy instrumental breaks that center around Rusty Young’s pedal steel, which doesn’t sound like any pedal steel guitar you’ve ever heard. It’s played with a wah-wah pedal and, if that wasn’t enough, the resulting sound is sent through a Leslie organ speaker.
We know it sounds crazy, but it really works. There is nothing else like it on record, nothing that we’ve ever heard anyway.
Country Prog Rock
Most of side two is taken up by a single track, Nobody’s Fool / El Tonto de Nadie, Regresa. It’s a suite in which the band stretches out instrumentally in a somewhat proggy way, although one could make the case that Bluegrass music is all about “stretching out instrumentally.”
The extended forays are held together by the brilliant pedal steel playing throughout. I have the feeling that Jim Messina, who left the band shortly after this album was released, was the guiding force behind breaking out of the 3-minute pop song format that Poco began with. Whoever may be responsible, they deserve credit for making what is in our minds one of the best Country Rock / Country Prog records of all time.
A Long Time Coming
I’ve been a fan of this album since it came out in 1970, but I never thought that the original pressings were especially good sounding.
Turns out I was right — the original Yellow Label Epic pressings leave much to be desired, so much so that we simply do not bother to pick them up anymore. Based on the results of this shootout I would say it’s very unlikely we would offer you anything but a later label copy as a Hot Stamper. Ah, but which one? That’s always the rub, isn’t it? They all sound different, and most are nothing special.
The way I found out that the originals were not letting me hear the full glory of the recording was that the CD I had picked up sometime in the ’90s just killed it. If the CD beats all the original pressings of the record you can get your hands on, either you have been very unlucky with your choice of originals or it’s time to check out the reissues.
It takes a very good copy to beat the CD, which is an excellent transfer and hard to fault for sound. It’s tonally correct and fairly rich and tubey for a CD.
This copy, being a truly Hot Stamper, will show you what the CD cannot – the size, the space, the depth, the Tubey Magic, and the freedom to get good and loud the right way, the kinds of things records do so well but CDs — even the best of them — do not do as well. Side by side there really is no comparison.
Although they give the album 4 Stars, they appear to bestow their favors on the shorter pop songs that take up side one. What’s uniquely interesting to me is the long proggy jam on side two: Nobody’s Fool / El Tonto de Nadie, Regresa.
Loggins and Messina would go on to make the extended pop song with a long instrumental middle section a key feature of practically all their albums and I’ve always found those tracks to be the most adventurous and compelling. See if you don’t agree.
Speaking of Loggins and Messina, this very Poco album was recorded at least in part by their go-to future right hand man, ALEX KAZANEGRAS. Jim Messina left the band soon after this album was finished and brought Alex with him to record the classic Sittin’ In with Kenny Loggins in 1971, a Desert Island Disc if there ever was one
We’re big fans of the sound Kazanegras achieved in the studio on L&M’s albums, no doubt with a great deal of assistance from Jim Messina, a man who knew his way around a recording studio, having helped with the recording and production on the second and third Buffalo Springfield albums, both Desert Island Discs in their own right.