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Using a quote from the notes that came with this two lps on one cd offering I select ‘the irrepressible George Frayne – better know to the cooloscenti as Commander Cody – was, indeed is, one of the great characters of seventies County Rock.
Originally released in 1978 and 1977 respectively, Flying Dreams and Rock ’n Roll Again show how the music of Commander Cody was, caught in-between the west coast country rock, remnants of rock’n’roll and the commercial leaning rock (/pop) country that followed. As the above was stirred into the cauldron. Although by this stage his music possessed less of a cutting edge there was something special about Frayne’s innovative grasp of music; he loved to entertain as the feel of adrenalin pumped through his veins.
Among the finest moments on Flying Dreams you have “Talent Night At The Nashville Inn”, “Dreams Of Barbarella” and with generous helpings of humour and electric guitar, “Thank You Lone Ranger”; plus with a funky, happy as they come “Life Is A Carnival” that has some tasty licks from Norton Buffalo (harmonica) plus with more smart grooves, a left of centre and thoroughly enjoyable “Stranger In A Strangeland”. “My Day” rounds off the record in wonderful fashion as Cody and the band obtain the perfect balance of country, swing, cosmic country rock and rock’n’roll!
Rock ’n Roll Again opens in a fashion Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks would be proud of as “Midnight Man“ is served, this as The New Commander Cody Band ease through the gears. While the album is more hit and miss than preferred, it does have its moments; the title-track “Rock’n Roll Again” produces a song up to its heading, and it has for company the likes of reflective ode “6 Years On The Road” as Cody (joined by brass) recalls the past. On cranking it up Cody is aided by harmony vocalists Nicolette Larson and Charra Perry plus slide guitar and more brass and a fine rhythm section on “Widow” and, with superb barrel house piano “Danny” with its warning message has him opt for a less complicated, stripped back style and it works. Superb! Others of note include “Where Were You” which on opening sounds a little Tom Waits-ish due to the piano, and dark approach prior to him throwing off the shackles and being your regular Commander Cody. Sad, because the opening had a lovely feel of intrigue and offered something worth pursuing.
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