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Live from the Armadillo World Headquarters 1973 & the Capitol Theatre 1975

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Album Review

There have been many dubious live offerings by the classic Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen over the years. This is not to say that the tapes weren't licensed in some way — perhaps they put some much needed pocket change in the various ex-members' pockets, which is fine. But this one is an authoritative reissue; one of these two discs has not previously been heard on CD. In some ways, this is the real Grail for those looking for Lost Planet Airmen rarities and shows. Issued on the SPV Blue imprint, disc one in this collection, recorded in 1973 at the Armadillo World Headquarters, contains the editing-room casualties from the band's first live album, Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas. While the released set has the official distinction of being one of Rolling Stone mag's greatest 100 records of all time, hardcore fans knew it was in some ways a hatchet job because it doesn't flow the way a Commander show usually did. What's on this disc is the reason: 13 of these cuts were issued on the Music Avenue label as Texas Roadhouse Favorites in 2006, but this set contains 17. It's the rock and blues set with a few country and trucker faves such as "What Made Milwaukee Famous" and "Truck Driving Man" thrown in. But this is a burning live rock and blues set. The horn section was especially tight on this night, and never sounded better. The second disc was recorded at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY, in 1975, during the band's Warner Bros. period. For those in the know, the Warner recordings (reissued by Wounded Bird on CD, thank God) are vastly underrated and are essential for anyone interested in this band. (This does not include the live We've Got a Live One Here!, an abomination issued to fulfill a contract.) This set is a little dodgier in terms of sound, but the performance is even stronger. With 25 tracks clocking in at 78 minutes, this one is full of old and new tunes, originals, and covers: band standards like "Down to Seeds and Stems Again," "Truck Driving Man," "My Window Faces South," "Hot Rod Lincoln," and "Lookin' at the World Through a Windshield" are all here, but so are readings of "Cajun Rag," "Everybody's Doin' It," "Diggy Diggy Lo," "Keep on Lovin' Her," "Wine Do Your Stuff," "I'm Comin' Home," "Mama Tried," "Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar," and "Don't Let Go." It also includes the return of pedal steel boss Bobby Black to the band's fold after a stint with Barbara Mandrell. The rougher sound of the second volume does nothing to diminish the crackling energy and sheer sophisticated musicality of the performance. This double set — at a reasonable price — is a must for any fan of the Commander Cody/Lost Planet Airmen show.

Live from the Armadillo World Headquarters 1973 & the Capitol Theatre 1975, Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
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