Flying Burrito Brothers mid-'70's albums coming to CD

The albums Flying Again (1975) and Airborne (1976), the first two albums that were recorded by a "reunited" version of the Flying Burrito Brothers, are being released as a 2-on-1 CD by the Acadia label on June 27th. Flying Again was available on CD in Europe in the past. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first time on CD anywhere for Airborne.

The lineup that recorded Flying Again featured two original FBB members: pedal steel guitarist "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow and bassist Chris Ethridge. The rest of the quintet was made up of latter-day Byrds drummer Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram), ex-Canned Heat guitarist Joel Scott Hill, and veteran session fiddler Floyd "Gib" Guilbeau (who was involved in most of the FBB lineups that came after this one).

Flying Again was released two years after the death of Gram Parsons, and some considered it a form of sacrilege for this quintet to release an album under the FBB's name, especially without Chris Hillman's participation. The album itself won't offend those who are less easily offended, but it may put them to sleep. It consists of slickly produced middle-of-the-road country, the kind that was becoming much too common at that point. The original FBB were considered pioneers of the country-rock genre, but this version of the band merely sounded like followers. The cover songs (especially George Jones' "Why Baby Why") come off slightly better than the originals.

Ethridge quit the band after only one album, just like he did in the beginning. He was replaced by the late Skip Battin (another latter-day Byrd), and this lineup recorded Airborne. This album is not as slick as its predecessor, but it's similarly dull. Aside from a few standout tracks (including Stevie Wonder's "She's A Sailor", which features Stevie on piano), this album is spread out awfully thin. A few days after listening to Airborne, you may not remember having done so.