If you only have a cursory knowledge of Brewer and Shipley or only know there one hit, "One Toke Over the Line" check out my other comments on them especially the last one on the "Shake off the Demon" album. That will go some way to explaining where this album comes from.
Brewer and Shipley were from heartland America who made the slog to the west coast with their brand of folk rock but what they brought with them was the dust and the open spaces, the sounds of Native Americans, and the music of those American peoples: white country, Native American music, some blues, a little jazz from Kansas City. They weren't hicks, they were switched on and armed with sounds and smarts ready to burst forth just like Dylan had half a decade earlier.
And, in the tradition of duos (or trios) of the folk boom they could both play guitars, sing, and write. All those skills are strong but their voices, particularly, mix well. They are big and loud in that "up front" folk way rather than laid back and gentle in that cowboy country rock way we have come to expect. I suspect that is why they have been overlooked in country rock retrospectives though they were there at it's inception and have always had country sounds in their music.
Their first album " Down in L.A." (1968) was folk rock with hints of country and pop. They didn't like L.A. much so they headed back to Kansas City. Their label dropped them. They entered into new contracts with Kama Sutra and ended up in San Francisco recording with producer "Nicky Gravy".
Nicky Gravy was Nick Gravenites, who was soon to become the lead singer of Big Brother & the Holding Company.
"Brewer & Shipley's management hooked the duo up with Gravenites, who'd already made a name for himself as a member of the Electric Flag, as well as writing songs recorded by the likes of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Gravenites was instrumental in assembling the backup musicians for Weeds, who included guitarist Mike Bloomfield (who'd played with Gravenites in the Electric Flag); keyboardist Mark Naftalin, who'd played alongside Bloomfield in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; violinist Richard Greene, who in the '60s played with bluegrass giant Bill Monroe, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, the Blues Project, and Sea Train; and Nicky Hopkins, the most esteemed session keyboardist in '60s British rock, who'd played on important records by the likes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, and Who. The countrified feel to much of the record was supplied in part by ace pedal steel guitarist Red Rhodes, who played on such classics as the Byrds' The Notorious Byrd Brothers and James Taylor's Sweet Baby James"" http://www.richieunterberger.com/brewer.html
What Gravenites put together was a crack country and folk rock band who could also play folk but who never shied away from rock.
But it was not all Gravenites and I''m not doubting what Richie Unterberger has written above but it sounds like Nicy Gravenites had the vision and that is doing Brewer and Shipley a disservice. Brewer and Shipley had the vision and the folk rock, goes country and Midwest was already present on their first album.
Here, they were just going to shake it up a bit and take a grater to some of the pop aspects of the first album.
The result is country rock with folk aspects like The Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Great Speckled Byrd.
The only difference is that Brewer and Shipley haven't received the laurels that they deserve.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Lady Like You – Brief but a great intro to the album that sets the mood. A gentle country folk twanger
- Rise Up (Easy Rider) – more "Easy Rider" references. Well, the movie was a big hit.
- Boomerang -another good song
- Indian Summer – a magnificent big ballad, piano, fiddle and all
- All Along The Watchtower – a great version of a great Dylan song
- People Love Each Other – of course, you have to have one of the "people love each other" songs in 1969 but this has a hint of melancholia and benefits as a result.
- Pig's Head – A thumper. Beautiful with lyrics about civil unrest
- Oh, Sweet Lady – a gentle folky ode, to a, errr sweet lady. Beautifully sung with a touch of the Simon & Garfunkel
- Too Soon Tomorrow -another ballad that is both gentle and big and quite beautiful
- Witchi-tai-to – (Jim Pepper) – Native American Jim Pepper was lead vocalist in "Everything is Everything who has a #69 hit with this adapted Indian chant on the US charts. Brewer and Shipley heard it and learnt it phonetically … whilst changing the song slightly. This is great with a emphasis on the central riff off which everything revolves for almost seven minutes. It's a happy song with both Native American and English lyrics. http://www.brewerandshipley.com/misc/WitchiTaiTo2.htm
This is superior stuff, as good as any other country rock coming out in the late 1960s … a unheralded classic … I'm keeping it.
Nothing no where
People Love Each Other
RIP: Paul Kantner