[Review] Poco: Crazy Eyes (1973)

It’s the last Poco fans would see of founder Richie Furay, who left for the lights of the Southern Hills.

Kronomyth 6.0: The Gram Finale.

This is the last Poco album to feature Richie Furay, and marks the end of an era in more ways than one. Country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons passed away shortly before Crazy Eyes was released, and the album featured both a Parsons cover (“Brass Buttons,” sung by Furay) and a song written earlier about Parsons, “Crazy Eyes,” that now appeared in an epic nearly ten-minute version with string and horn arrangements. It was a strange way to say goodbye, and yet arguably the band’s best album to date.

A Good Feelin’ To Know was a very good album, featuring some of the best singing, playing and songwriting of Poco’s career. Crazy Eyes is equally good, but with a bittersweet side. “Brass Buttons” and “Crazy Eyes” are the album’s fulcrum: everything seems to pivot around them. Even the country-rock introduction of “Blue Water” and “Fools Good” seem like a nod to the debt that the genre owed to Parsons. But the person most affected by the passing of Parsons is Furay, who seems more preoccupied with his colleague’s death than the future of his own band. (Furay had already been approached about the prospect of forming a new group with Chris Hillman and J.D. Souther.)

Poco would survive without him. Paul Cotton and Timothy B. Schmit were both capable songwriters and singers, and George Grantham could carry a tune. Cotton’s contributions were at least as strong as what Stephen Stills was writing at the time, and Schmit proves a perfectly valid fill-in for Furay on “Here We Go Again,” which became the album’s single. Rusty Young gave the band country credibility, and Grantham continued to be one of the best drummers on the country-rock scene.

Despite being a fine album with growing ambitions, Crazy Eyes didn’t have a hit single. It did chart in the Top 40, which was an achievement among Poco albums, but Furay must have felt a twinge of disappointment that the band never achieved the commercial success of their contemporaries. The Southern-Hillman-Furay Band benefited from better promotion, not from better songs. Of course, the story of Poco wasn’t completely written yet, and the band would eventually strike upon a winning formula of soft rock in the late 70s.

Original elpee version

A1. Blue Water (Paul Cotton) (3:12)
A2. Fools Gold (Rusty Young) (2:24)
A3. Here We Go Again (Timothy B. Schmit) (3:29)
A4. Brass Buttons (Gram Parsons) (4:29)
A5. A Right Along (Paul Cotton) (4:45)
B1. Crazy Eyes (Richie Furay, arranged by Bob Ezrin and Alan MacMillan) (9:37)
B2. Magnolia (J.J. Cale, string and horn arrangement by Ben McPeek) (6:18)
B3. Let’s Dance Tonight (Richie Furay) (3:49)

Original 8-track version
A1. Blue Water
A2. Fools Gold
A3. Crazy Eyes (Part 1)
B1. Crazy Eyes (conclusion)
B2. Here We Go Again
C1. Brass Buttons
C2. A Right Along
C3. Magnolia (introduction)
D1. Magnolia
D2. Let’s Dance Tonight

Quadrophonic 8-track version
A1. Blue Water
A2. Fools Gold
A3. Here We Go Again
A4. Brass Buttons
A5. Magnolia
B1. Crazy Eyes
B2. A Right Along
B3. Let’s Dance Tonight

The Players

Paul Cotton, Richie Furay, George Grantham, Timothy B. Schmit, Rusty Young with Aynsley Dunbar (percussion on B1), Bob Ezrin (piano on B1), Bill Graham (fiddle), Paul Harris (piano), Chris Hillman (mandolin), Joe Lala (percussion). Produced Jack Richardson; recording engineer and general confidante: Brian Christian; recording technician: Dennis Smith.

The Pictures

Art direction & design by Gary Burden for R. Twerk. Front cover photography by Tom Gundelfinger. Back cover photography by Henry Diltz.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, quadrophonic elpee, 8-track and quadrophonic 8-track on September 15, 1973 in the US and Canada (Epic, KE/EQ/EA/EAQ 32354) and the UK (Epic, S EPC 65631) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #38 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1979 in the US (Epic, PE 32354) [black-to-blue label].
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1995 in the US (Sony, CBS-66966).
  3. Re-released on high-definition surround compact disc in 1997 in the US (DTS).
  4. Re-packaged with Deliverin’ on 2-for-1 remastered compact disc in January 2006 (BGO).

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