[Review] Roger McGuinn & Band (1975)

In a pretty sneaky move, McGuinn picks up Pete Kleinow’s backing band and invites them to contribute new material.

Kronomyth 3.0: Cold steal.

Columbia was still playing up the Bob Dylan associations when they promoted this album as “McGuinn paints his masterpiece.” In fact, he wasn’t even holding the brush half of the time. His third album features five songs written by the band, four by the byrd and one by the bard. It’s a crankier record in spots than his first two, inviting comparison to the Rolling Stones (Somebody Loves You) and Neil Young (Lover of the Bayou), but otherwise sticks close to the country/folk/rock sound that Roger McGuinn had helped pioneer and effectively plied for the last eight years.

If you’re looking for a standout track, I would tell you that this cover of Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door may be the prettiest version I’ve ever heard. The opening “Somebody Loves You” is another strong track, and both “Lover of the Bayou” and Born to Rock and Roll have shown some staying power in McGuinn’s catalog. The material from the band is more or less placeholder product. Richard Bowden (who would go on to good things as half of Pinkard & Bowden) shows himself to be a clever songwriter on Bull Dog, and David Lovelace’s Circle Song is worth an honorable mention.

As for the band, it was basically the backing band from Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s last album, Cold Steel. It’s unlikely McGuinn envisioned them as becoming the Byrds part two, despite touring with them, as he soon gave up the role of bandleader to follow Bob Dylan in his Rolling Thunder Revue. Cardiff Rose found McGuinn re-energized, and is the better album, although you can get both in a twofer from BGO Records. There’s also a remastered version of this album from Sundazed that features live band versions of Wasn’t Born to Follow and Chestnut Mare, the latter given an especially strong reading.

Original elpee version

A1. Somebody Loves You (Steve Love/A.Kemp) (3:14)
A2. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan) (3:19)
A3. Bull Dog (Richard Bowden) (3:00)
A4. Painted Lady (Greg Attaway/David Lovelace) (3:06)
A5. Lover of the Bayou (Roger McGuinn/Jacques Levy) (3:26)
B1. Lisa (Roger McGuinn) (1:56)
B2. Circle Song (David Lovelace) (3:04)
B3. So Long (Richard Bowden) (3:12)
B4. Easy Does It (Roger McGuinn) (2:40)
B5. Born to Rock and Roll (Roger McGuinn) (3:16)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. Wasn’t Born to Follow (live)
12. Chestnut Mare (live)

The Players

Roger McGuinn (guitar, vocals), Greg Attaway (drums), Richard Bowden (guitar), Steve Love (bass guitar), David Lovelace (piano). Produced by John Boylan; engineered by Paul Grupp.

The Pictures

Photography by Norman Seeff. Band photography by Emerson-Loew. Design by Ron Coro.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in June 1975 in the US (Columbia, PC 33541) and the UK (CBS, S/40 80877). REached #165 on the US charts.

  1. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc on July 25, 2006 in the US (Sundazed) with 2 bonus tracks.
  2. Re-issued on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1545) with 2 bonus tracks.
  3. Re-packaged with Cardiff Rose on 2-for-1 compact disc in 2007 in the UK (BGO, BGOCD774).

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