Not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (but should be) – POCO

“There’s just a little bit of magic in the country music we’re singin’”

Formed out of the remnants of Buffalo Springfield in 1968, Poco released their debut LP Pickin’ Up The Pieces on May 19, 1969. One of the most frustrating stories in modern rock and roll, Poco was a band that consistently released great music, were a stellar live band, and year after year, LP after LP, sales were lukewarm. Their 25+ LP catalogue is a breathtaking body of work that charts the beginning of the country rock genre from 1969 into the 21st century.  However, the consistent theme in the Poco story is … change and inconsistency.

Buffalo Springfield imploded in 1968, due to the competing egos of Stephen Stills and Neil Young. Both men left the band – Stills hooked up with David Crosby and Graham Nash, and Young began a solo career. That left Richie Furay and Jim Messina responsible for finishing Springfield’s final album, Last Time Around.  After that project was finished, they decided to form a band and steer their new sound toward a harder-edged country rocking sound.

In his autobiography Furay stated,

“One of my main musical influences was Buck Owens … a real musical innovator as a singer, guitarist and bandleader … a genuine inspiration for the country rock sound … harder and edgier than a lot of mainstream country. I wanted them [the new songs] to be accessible as well as uplifting.”

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Poco, 1968: Jim Messina, Randy Meisner, George Grantham, Richie Furay, Rusty Young

Messina and Furay filled out the new band with Rusty Young, a wunderkind multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, etc …) George Grantham on drums & vocals and, after a long deliberation, they chose Randy Meisner on bass, over the other candidate, Timothy B. Schmit.

They initially called the band Pogo, after the popular comic-strip character, but ran into legal issues over the name’s copyright. Since they had already been performing under the “Pogo” name for several months around L.A., they simply changed the “g” to a “c” and went with POCO so their fans wouldn’t become too confused. Their first LP was released and although it is considered a “lost classic” the LP never sold. Today, Pickin’ Up The Pieces is a seminal LP of the late 1960s California country rock genre, and sounds just as fresh and energetic 45 years later.

The band played before enthusiastic crowds across America (as an opening act) but the sales were lukewarm. Meisner quit, to join Glenn Frey and Don Henley as part of Linda Ronstadt’s back-up band (later The Eagles), and Timothy B. Schmit joined the band, replacing Meisner. 

In 1970-71 Poco released their second LP, Poco and a year later, a live album, Deliverin’. Jim Messina quit to join Kenny Loggins as a duo (Loggins & Messina).  He was replaced by Paul Cotton and the new band quickly recorded their fourth LP From The Inside.  Again … lackluster sales.

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George Grantham, drums; Richie Furay, guitar, vocals; Rusty Young, steel guitar

The band then recorded and released A Good Feelin’ to Know (1972) which is considered the band’s masterwork, and is one of the puzzling chapters of the Poco story. The LP was filled with great songs, the title along, released as a single, is one of the most infectious and upbeat country rockers ever recorded, but the single failed to chart and the album itself peaked at No. 69. As a result, Furay became increasingly discouraged with Poco’s prospects, especially since ex-bandmates Stills, Young, Meisner and Messina were enjoying huge success with their respective groups. In an April 26, 1973 Rolling Stone magazine interview with Cameron Crowe Furay vented that Poco was still a second-billed act and had not increased its audience and the writing was on the wall. The next album, Crazy Eyes (1973), reached No. 38 but Furay departed at its release.

Most people assumed the band would fold without founding father Furay, but Schmidt, Young, Cotton and Grantham re-grouped and released six albums in four years as a quartet, with very little change in sound of quality. In fact, Cotton and Young, in particular, stepped up and picked up the composition void left by Furay. In fact, among fans, 1974’s Cantamos and Rose of Cimarron (1976) among the best Poco LPs ever.

Then, in 1977, Timothy B. Schmidt left the band (with the other member’s blessing) to replace Randy Meisner in The Eagles. Cotton, Young and Grantham regrouped, added two more players and released Legend, which became Poco’s best-selling LP of all time, and included their two highest charting songs, “Crazy Love” and “In The Heart of The Night.” 

Country Rock Band Poco

Throughout the 1980s Poco, under Young and Cotton’s direction, released five more LPs some excellent (Blue and Grey) and some mediocre (Cowboys & Englishman.) In 1989 the original line-up (Furay, Messina, Young, Meisner, Grantham) reunited for a lackluster LP, Legacy.

Since that time, Paul Cotton has released a few solo LPs and Young has carried on performing as Poco with a variety of musicians supporting him – often joined by Cotton. In November 2002 Poco offered a new release of new songs by Cotton and Young, Running Horse

In October 2013, Rusty Young announced his retirement from touring and performing – and after 45 years, no one will deny he deserves it!  He also mentioned he was working on “the book” – hopefully a comprehensive history of Poco. And the last chapter will be their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Major Releases

Title Details
Pickin’ Up the PiecesPoco
  • Release date: May 19, 1969
  • Release date: May 6, 1970
 
Deliverin’!
  • Release Date: January 13, 1971
 
From the Inside
  • Release date: September 5, 1971
 
A Good Feelin’ to Know
  • Release date: September 25, 1972
 
Crazy Eyes
  • Release date: September 15, 1973
 
Seven
  • Release date: April 12, 1974
 
Cantamos
  • Release date: November 1, 1974
 
Very Best of Poco
  • Release date: May 1975
 
Head over Heels
  • Release date: July 1975
 
Rose of Cimarron
  • Release date: May 26, 1976
 
Live
  • Release date: April 3, 1976
 
Indian Summer
  • Release date: May 1977
 
Legend
  • Release date: November 1978
 
Under the Gun
  • Release date: July 1980
 
Blue and Gray
  • Release date: July 1981
 
Cowboys & Englishmen
  • Release date: February 1982
 
Ghost Town
  • Release date: September 20, 1982
 
Inamorata
  • Release date: April 16, 1984
 
Legacy
  • Release date: September 23, 1989
 
The Forgotten Trail
  • Release date: October 1990
 
Running Horse
  • Release date: November 18, 2002
 
All Fired Up
  • Release date: March 5, 2013
 

NOT in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (But Should Be) – Amazing Rhythm Aces

Amazing Rhythm Aces

The Amazing Rhythm Aces1The Aces came out of Memphis, TN.  in 1972. At the recommendation of Barry “Byrd” Burton, who was engineering and producing at the famous Sam Phillips Recording Studio they recorded and developed a sound mixing of pop, country and blue-eyed soul, led by the literate and often quirky lyrics, and distinctive vocals by lead singer/songwriter Russell Smith. They have released 18 LPs over 30s.

Their first LP, Stacked Deck, was a hit, powered by the Top 10 country & pop,(and  now-classic) song, “Third Rate Romance.” In 1976 they earned a Grammy for “Best Vocal Performance” for “The End Is Not In Sight.” With their music described as “roots rock”, “country rock” mixing reggae, blues, country, bluegrass, rock and folk, the Aces were too eclectic to ever have consistent mainstream success. But their musical legacy today can be heard in most modern country and Americana music. The Aces are a band musicians love to love.

PLAYLIST:

  1. Third Rate Romance
  2. Hit The Nail On The Head … 3.19
  3. The End Is Not In Sight (the Cowboy Song) … 5: 43
  4. Typical American Boy … 9.26
  5. Who Will the Next Fool Be? … 12.55
  6. Amazing Grace (Used To Be Her Favorite Song) … 16.32
  7. I Got The Feeling … 20.21
  8. Out Of The Storm … 26.04
  9. DUI/SOL … 29.43
  10. Thangamalang … 33.01
  11. I’m A Dog …37.14

Recommended listening: Stacked Deck; Too Stuffed to Jump; Nothin’ But The Blues; Full House, Aces High.