Ann Arbor astronauts land in Denver to deliver a blistering set of sonic escapades.
There was never a whiff of self-importance about the good Commander and his posse of cosmic minstrels, but they knew well how to get to the heart of common folks – and here’s a testament to that. Recorded for radio in 1973, not long before the “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” live album, this concert document is drastically different, reflecting the band’s early, rockabilly-bound, blend of originals and covers. And the blend is strong, as the lighthearted mood sets in from a flurry of licks that precede “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and doesn’t let go until “Sunset On The Sage” brings the show to a sweaty close.
The interplay on “Diggy Liggy Lo” and “Ain’t Nothing Shaking” has irresistible charm to it, whereas Bill Kirchen’s guitar and Andy Stein’s sax sting and simmer on the jolly “Truckin’ And Fuckin'” – an obvious crowd-pleaser in the absence of “Hot Rod Lincoln” – while “Mama Hated Diesels” is laced with Bobby Black’s pedal steel in the most lachrymose way. Propelling “Jailhouse Rock” and “Rave On” back to their bluegrass base, the group give Elvis and Buddy a run for their money, but hayseed harmonies on the relaxed likes of “What’s The Matter Now” bring the ensemble’s country roots to the fore – given a new polish by Cody’s boogie piano that flirts with the fiddle on “Truck Drivin’ Man” and takes “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” to the emotional top for a preliminary finale.
They might not have been the best live band in the world as “Billboard” allegedly called them, yet when it came to smutting innocence with a smile, this ensemble were really good.