Billy Jones - vocals, guitar; Henry Paul - vocals, guitar; Frank O'Keefe - bass; Hughie Thomasson - vocals, guitar; Monte Yoho - drums
While the Tampa, Florida band, the Outlaws, is often lumped into the loose category of southern rock, there is in actuality a distinct difference in their approach, as well as their influences. Their primary similarity with other southern rock bands is their dual-lead-guitar interplay, a defining characteristic of many of the bands thrown into that category. However, the Outlaws' mix of country and rock elements display the melodicism and vocal harmony influences of groups like the Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds and Poco, as opposed to groups like the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd, to which they are often unfairly compared. Their use of multi-part vocal harmonies clearly set them apart from contemporaries that usually relied on a single lead vocalist. The basic sound of the band was initially rooted around the voice and guitar playing of Hughie Thomasson, who had innate country elements in his technique, but was more of a straightforward rock/blues player.
This first performance the Outlaws did live from the Record Plant, captures the band promoting the release of their self-titled debut album featuring many of the songs that would establish their reputation. With the exception of "Prisoner," a song that would later surface as a standout track on their second album, all the material here is sourced from the band's first album. The freshness of the material and their enthusiasm for playing and singing together is obvious here, and in many ways, it is even more impressive than the album itself. Essentially, this recording is the best of both worlds: it displays the immediacy that only a live performance can relay, while retaining the tight vocal and instrumental interaction that was so engaging on their earliest studio recordings.
The set begins with "Song In The Breeze," a softer number which immediately displays the strength of the vocal harmony element of the band. A preview of things to come follows, with the early Billy Jones composition, "Prisoner." This song wouldn't make the cut for the first album, but it is easily on par with that album's best material. The relaxed groove is extended, and the band gets to stretch out a bit here, with delicate guitar interplay that builds for several minutes without ever becoming self indulgent. Next they introduce their first single, "There Goes Another Love Song," which is followed by the more straightforward rocker "Cry No More."
The highlights of the set are saved for last, first with a quick romp through the up-tempo electric bluegrass-styled "Knoxville Girl." Then they close the set with their magnum-opus, "Green Grass & High Tides." One could hardly ask for more as it's a fresh near-perfect rendition. The dynamics of the studio version are still intact and the extended guitar interplay is even hotter and more adventurous. It's no wonder this became a classic FM radio staple that has stood the test of time. The Outlaws blend all their best elements here: engaging vocal harmonies and an arrangement that builds into a frenetic triple-lead-guitar workout that burns with intensity.
Sadly, founder Hughie Thomasson died in his home in mid-September, 2007.