Lost Cabin Sessions

by: Ozark Mountain Daredevils

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils spent most of their existence identified as a country-pop band, but when they first got together, they were a country outfit with some specific roots rock influences, closer in spirit to the Byrds of Sweetheart of the Rodeo than to the Eagles or Poco, and more of the real article -- as all of the bandmembers were still living in Springfield, MO -- than even the Byrds were by 1968. These sessions -- dating from the summer of 1972, well over a year before the band first recorded and before it even had a name -- represent those roots, and the songs also arguably represent the Daredevils' finest body of work, with sweet and unpretentious harmonies and stripped-down (yet often very sweet) playing (check out "On Our Carousel," which could have been a single and is worth the price of the disc), all within a much purer country idiom than the band later manifested. Culturally, this might not be as important a release as, say, the Sweetheart of the Rodeo outtakes or the early work of the Flying Burrito Brothers, but it's all so jaw-droppingly beautiful that who cares? From rootsy, slightly rock-flavored country gospel numbers like "The Rhythm of Joy" to achingly beautiful ballads such as "Someday Darlin'," the stuff is gorgeous and infectious in ways that most of the group's later work wasn't. This is kind of like the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' equivalent to what The Bristol Sessions were to the Carter Family et al. The sound is excellent and the annotation is reasonably thorough, though as is often the case with Varese Sarabande reissues, the notes focus more on the era of the recordings than the sides themselves, which is sort of a shame because the playing and singing are so unabashedly pretty and unpretentious. ~ Bruce Eder

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