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Album Review

ALLEN THOMPSON BAND
God, But I'm Back In the Seventies Again!

And I'm digging it! Here's why. The early seventies were awash with bands few people heard because radio and major labels ruled and they ruled with an iron fist. What did radio play? The hits! What did the major labels want them to play? The hits! The result? Extreme brainwash. The hits now define what music in the seventies was (to those who weren't there, anyway)! Try talking Cat Mother or Heartsfield or Cowboy or Richard Torrance & Eureka to someone these days and watch eyes glaze over. Well, guess what? They were a more important part of my seventies than The Eagles or Linda Ronstadt or Elton John or many of the stars you know (to you, superstars, I am sure). They defined my seventies alongside Cargoe and Big Star and Game and Ratchell and so many more I'll bet you don't know. Radio was mere backdrop for the music I loved. Most of my music came from my stereo. If I heard it anywhere else (outside of The House of Records in Eugene), it was a fluke. It was also a reason to make new friends. Anyone who loved the music I liked became a friend by default. Those were the days.

Well, those are evidently still the days because the Allan Thompson Band's new album, Salvation In the Ground, brings it all back. It is not alt.country like so many of you will probably label it. It is country rock, the category given to bands who mixed rock with country--- a lot of rock (smooth or otherwise) and the feel of country but without the twang. It brings to my mind jeans and overwashed blue work shirts and long hair and a feel for the land. Not just the land, actually, but for everything the establishment was not. The Establishment. Love it or leave it. Cut your hair and get a job. Get your boy sent home in a box.

While country rock was not political rock, it was, passively. Country Rockers mostly chose to ignore the hot button issues of the political world, looking inward instead. Back to the land. Love. Truth. And Rock and Roll, even if it reared its head for only a moment. It was an amazing time.

The band captures that era with the very Eagles-ish Everybody Knows (think Take It To the Limit), the straight-out-of-Uncle Jim's Music-songbook-sounding While I'm Young (with a wisp of Neil Young on vocals), and the echoes of Country Funk (with help from the sound of The Band) on Dirt To Dust. Not that they sound like them, but you can hear bits and pieces. Like you can hear pieces of Heartsfield and early Cowboy and a handful of others.

I'm not really sure if I like this album because it brings back my musical past or if it is because these guys really have something. I prefer to think a little of both. I do know that I will be listening to it long past its expiration date (meaning the completion of this review) and that is a certainty. I might even revisit many of the bands I have mentioned in this review a bit more often, in fact. It's summer. It is a good time for getting back to the land and revisiting a very important part of my past. I thank the Allan Thompson Band for the push. Even though it happens on a fairly regular basis, I think I need to do it more often. Especially being's how it is an election year. I'm turning the music up, too, so I don't have to listen to all of the bitching and whining. Way up. I'm having a better time already.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.


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