9 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While David Bromberg’s first two albums had been nearly entirely acoustic and often austere affairs, the beloved guitarist finally cut loose on his third LP, 1974’s Wanted Dead or Alive. This album unites the gentle country picking of West Coast hippie culture with the sweltering R&B and jazz of the Deep South: a marriage epitomized by the presence of both The Grateful Dead (longtime cohorts of Bromberg) and The Sweet Inspirations (a gospel-infused R&B group led by Cissy Houston). With its Caribbean flourishes, the Dead-led version of “The Holdup” (cowritten by Bromberg and George Harrison) is one of the album’s highlights, setting the tone for the panoply of horns that reappear on “Danger Man,” “Wallflower,” and “Kansas City.” The brassy arrangements give the often gawky-sounding Bromberg an injection of red-blooded passion, but there’s no denying that folk music is the bedrock of his style. Gently ambling and expertly played, “The Main Street Moan” highlights the spiritual bond Bromberg shared with Jerry Garcia, but Bromberg could also grasp an audience by himself.

EDITORS’ NOTES

While David Bromberg’s first two albums had been nearly entirely acoustic and often austere affairs, the beloved guitarist finally cut loose on his third LP, 1974’s Wanted Dead or Alive. This album unites the gentle country picking of West Coast hippie culture with the sweltering R&B and jazz of the Deep South: a marriage epitomized by the presence of both The Grateful Dead (longtime cohorts of Bromberg) and The Sweet Inspirations (a gospel-infused R&B group led by Cissy Houston). With its Caribbean flourishes, the Dead-led version of “The Holdup” (cowritten by Bromberg and George Harrison) is one of the album’s highlights, setting the tone for the panoply of horns that reappear on “Danger Man,” “Wallflower,” and “Kansas City.” The brassy arrangements give the often gawky-sounding Bromberg an injection of red-blooded passion, but there’s no denying that folk music is the bedrock of his style. Gently ambling and expertly played, “The Main Street Moan” highlights the spiritual bond Bromberg shared with Jerry Garcia, but Bromberg could also grasp an audience by himself.

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