Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

  • Lost in the Ozone [Paramount, 1971] B
  • Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Trucker's Favorites [Paramount, 1972] B+
  • Country Casanova [Paramount, 1973] B-
  • Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas [Paramount, 1974] B+
  • Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen [Warner Bros., 1975] C+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Lost in the Ozone [Paramount, 1971]
Cody takes the country-rock idea that good old boys form a secret counterculture to bleary new heights. Uprooted bozos who handle fast cars and hot music (or vice versa) a lot better than wimmin and booze, they're half at home in every renegade country tradition, rockabilly and Western swing and white boogie-woogie. But not one of the four vocalists achieves the hippie-redneck synthesis--they all sound like they flee to one subculture when they get kicked out of the other. And the only time the songwriting reaches the outer atmosphere is on "Seeds and Stems (Again)," as close to pure hippie as they get. B

Hot Licks, Cold Steel and Trucker's Favorites [Paramount, 1972]
This rocks and wails with almost all the coherence and feeling of the rockabilly it takes off from, and if "Old Kentucky Hills of Tennessee" is an unabashedly oxymoronic travesty on country nostalgia (and country-rock aspiration), "Mama Hated Diesels" is so deadpan maudlin you have to check the credits to make sure they didn't cop it somewhere. B+

Country Casanova [Paramount, 1973]
Never mind howcum a loose-as-a-goose circa-1959 Texas bar band is releasing LPs for the Hip Young People's Market in 1973--this raises a more specific question. In "Everybody's Doin' It," howcum everybody who's "truckin'" and "fuckin'" isn't also "suckin'"? Don't tell me about the good old days. B-

Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas [Paramount, 1974]
Billy C. Farlow is no more equal to "Good Rockin' Tonighte" or "Cryin' Time"--Billy C. vs. Roy Brown?? Buck Owens??--than the Airmen are equal to the Crickets or the Texas Playboys. But on this live album they come damn near to equaling themselves, and on a good night. The rockers are hot, the slow ones are soulful, and the whole thing does justice to the endearingly sloppy shuffle of a band that refuses to be pretentious about its lack of pretensions. For the young at heart and generous of spirit. B+

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen [Warner Bros., 1975]
I don't know how you record the Airmen, whose wacked-out marginal proficiency always loses charm when etched in plastic for the ages, but it's no accident that the best thing here originated with Phil Harris. I have a couple of observations for their new producer, country-rock pro John Boylan. First, Billy C. Farlow's soul is located in his adenoids, and second, "Willin'" has already been covered by Linda Ronstadt. C+