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Lonesome Picker Rides Again

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Album Review

This is former Kingston Trio member John Stewart's first of two long-players on Warner Brothers during the singer/songwriter epidemic of the early 1970s. Lonesome Picker Rides Again (1971) echo not only the laidback sound of the era, but also the Northern California vibe that was likewise influencing the work of Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, the Youngbloods, and the Beau Brummels and Ron Elliot. Under the production and direction of younger brother Michael Stewart — himself a one-time folkie with the We Five — the elder Stewart provides a dozen folk-rock and country-flavored originals. The album is probably best remembered for including an infectious acoustic rendering of Stewart's composition "Daydream Believer." Stripped of the syrupy strings and overbearing horn arrangement, the inherent beauty of the melody and quaint affective lyrics are more fully realized here than on the Monkees' chart-topping version, or Anne Murray's slick and thoroughly dismissible interpretation. But perhaps it is the "Wild Horse Road" and "All the Brave Horses" medley, or the semi-autobiographical "Freeway Pleasure" that most aptly reflects the sense of John Ford's widescreen, open-road Americana. This is especially true of the latter, as it seemingly defines the idealistic passion that captures the rugged pioneering Yankee spirit and independent determination. Instrumentally, Stewart (guitar/vocals) is supported by West Coast session heavies Buddy Emmons (pedal steel guitar), Chris Darrow (violin/dobro), Russ Kunkel (drums), Leland Sklar (bass), ex-Hearts and Flowers member Rick Cunha (vocals), Peter Asher (vocals) of Peter and Gordon fame, Kate Taylor (vocals) and Stewart's wife, Buffy Ford (vocals). Even ex-Modern Folk Quartet and famed rock & roll photographer Henry "Tad" Diltz (harmonica/vocals) gets in the act, backing Stewarton a few numbers. After spending the better part of two decades out of print, in 2003 Collectors' Choice Music issued Lonesome Picker Rides Again on CD, domestically for the first time, restoring what is an otherwise essential entry into both the artists' catalog, as well as a highly underappreciated masterwork of the early 1970s folk-rock genre.


Born: 05 September 1939 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Stewart first gained recognition as a songwriter when his songs were recorded by the Kingston Trio. In 1960, he formed the Cumberland Three, which recorded three albums for Roulette. The following year, he joined the Kingston Trio, replacing Dave Guard, and stayed with them until 1967. His song "Daydream Believer" was a number one hit for the Monkees at the end of that year. Stewart traveled with Senator Robert Kennedy on his 1968 presidential campaign, an experience that affected him deeply....
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Lonesome Picker Rides Again, John Stewart
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