Michael Clarke - drums; Chris Hillman - vocals, bass; "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow - pedal steel guitar; Bernie Leadon - vocals, guitar; Rick Roberts - vocals, guitar
Although Nashville was certainly experiencing musical changes in the 1960s, it was Los Angeles musicians that first fully embraced the melding of country music elements into a rock music context. Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds had both flirted with country music early on, but it was The Flying Burrito Brothers who dove completely in. "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow's pioneering approach to pedal steel guitar would redefine the role of the instrument, and the group's early albums would become a virtual blueprint for countless other bands, as well as much of modern country music today. Although their records never sold in the numbers of their predecessors, the Burritos musical legacy left an indelible mark and their influence cannot be underestimated.
In 1970, founding members Gram Parsons and Chris Etheridge had departed. This substantial void was filled by singer-songwriter, Rick Roberts and future Eagle guitarist Bernie Leadon. With these two talented guitar playing singers now on board, Chris Hillman switched back to playing bass onstage, his primary instrument in The Byrds, and came into his own as a vocalist. As a professional touring band, they were arguably better than ever, with fewer erratic performances and an ever growing repertoire from which to choose. This previously unheard soundboard recording captures a five-song slice of this second-era lineup, during a fall 1970 tour opening for The Byrds. Two of the Burrito's classic early album tracks are featured here, as well as an enticing selection of covers.
Three covers kick it off, beginning with a countrified arrangement of John Fogerty's classic road song, "Lodi." This is followed by John D. Loudermilk's psychedelic-country tune, "Break My Mind," a very popular number among the Los Angeles contingency, best known as a staple of early Linda Ronstadt sets. Next up they deliver their take on former Byrd, Gene Clark's lovely "Tried So Hard," which would be so beautifully recorded for the group's third self-titled album, released the following year. The vocals are a bit ragged here, but the innate beauty of Clark's composition remains.
The road theme is then revisited on "Wheels," a standout Gram Parson/Chris Hillman collaboration off their debut album, The Guilded Palace Of Sin. Although Parson's vocal is no longer present, Chris Hillman was gaining confidence as a singer and with the assistance of Roberts, pulls this off quite nicely. They bring it to a close by rocking out on Jesse Winchester's celebratory "Payday."
This lineup would last another year and then splinter apart, leaving Roberts and Clarke to carry on with new recruits. Chris Hillman would soon co-found Manassas with Stephen Stills, Kleinow would become one of the most in-demand session musicians in the business, and Bernie Leadon would become a founding member of The Eagles, who would soon take the Burrito's unique formula straight to the top of the charts.