New and Notable Releases

Rating: NNNN

Subtitled The Lost Recordings Of Gram Parsons 1965-1966, these intriguing acoustic guitar and vocal home demos are the missing link between Parsons’ time with the Shilos and the International Submarine Band and point to his country-rock innovations on the horizon.

The informal sessions recorded with a Sony 500 reel-to-reel around the time of Parsons’ semester at Harvard show the strong influence of the Greenwich Village folk scene, specifically Tim Hardin, Hamilton Camp, Tom Paxton and Fred Neil, whose tunes, phrasing and strumming styles he cops. Oddly enough, his take on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Codeine sounds just like Nick Drake. Along with a few badly dated cafe-folkie coal-mining laments, there are revelatory flashes of Parsons’ brilliance in early versions of Brass Buttons and November Nights. Crisp fidelity and insightful notes make for a stunning package.

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