Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Gram Parsons

  • GP [Reprise, 1973] B+
  • Grievous Angel [Reprise, 1974] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

GP [Reprise, 1973]
In which Parsons stakes his claim to everything he loves about country music--its bathos, its moral fervor, its sense of peril. Whether he's replicating these qualities in his own songs or finding them in the genuine article, his interpretations achieve the synthesis of skepticism and longing that drove him to devise country-rock in the first place. Physically, he isn't always up to what he knows--that's a folkie's voice cracking on "She"--but he can be proud that the only track here that beats Tompall Glaser's "Streets of Baltimore" is his own "Kiss the Children." B+

Grievous Angel [Reprise, 1974]
On GP, Emmylou Harris was a backup musician; here she cuts Parsons's soulfully dilettantish quaver with dry, dulcet mountain spirituality. On GP, Parsons was undeviating in his dolor; here he opens up the honky tonks, if only to announce that he can't dance. The best Gram Parsons album--and hence the best country-rock album--since Gilded Palace of Sin, with all that irony and mystery translated from metaphor into narrative. A

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