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Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen: Live From Ebbetts Field – Denver, Colorado – Aug 11 1973
The year after this rollicking performance was recorded, Billboard Magazine voted Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen the 'best live band in the world'. Which it has to be said, is a hell of a claim. However, as more and more radio show performances from years gone by flood the market, at least it's getting easier to verify that notion.
There's little doubt that this band were nearing the peak of their powers, "Hot Rod Lincoln" bursting into the top ten in 1972 and CC&HLPA putting in some serious shifts on the boards to hone their live chops. Not giving much of a damn for sticking to one style, Cody and the boys were more interested in ensuring everyone had a good time. Hence a mix of country, boogie, rock n' roll, country-swing and rockabilly is caressed and cajoled into being, the mood at times sombre and serious, but much more often, rockin' and boisterous. Tales of trucker life, tough times, drinkin', smokin' and getting down to it are relived with a wry grin and no little candour. On stage the band were tight as a banjo string and with the mighty Bobby Black manning pedal steel guitar and the Commander himself – George Frayne – hammering the piano keys, the base of the band's sound was nailed down every time. Add in fiddle and sax, two guitars, bass and of course the harmonica and vocals of Billy C. Farlow, and it's easy to hear why Cody and his Airmen had such a fearsome live reputation. Something heightened by a collection of genuinely laugh out loud stage asides and song introductions, which even 44 years later, stand up to repeat listens.
Kicking off with "Good Rockin'" the party starts in full swing, the crowd in the venue – this Ebbetts Field a Denver club with built up seating around the sides to make it look like a baseball field, not the Brooklyn Dodgers' Ebbets Field, which was demolished some 13 years previous – whooping and hollering from the off. "Mama Hated Diesels" adds a melancholy country tone, while "Sally Walker" and its sax takes things into a rock n' roll country swing. With the foot stomping fiddle infused country of "Diggy Liggy Lo" - where the sound tops out into a distorted blur and, as it does on "All I Have To Offer You (Is Me)", drops out from time to time – the manner in which this outfit blend these different styles into one coherent attack, results in a hugely exciting collection.
Housed in a simple cardboard sleeve, with scant liner notes and a few slightly mis-named songs in the track listing, anyone looking to learn more about Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen, won't find any answers here. What they will discover however is a rip roaring live band with a selection of memorable, fun songs and stage craft to burn. The best live band in the world? I'm not certain I'd have gone quite that far but there's little doubt this lot would have given almost anyone a good run for their money.
2. Good rockin'
3. What's the matter now
4. Truck drivin' man
5. 4 or 5 times
6. Down and out
7. Mama hated diesels
8. Sally walker
9. Ain't nothing shaking
10. All i have to offer you
11. Diggy liggy
12. Smoke that cigarette
13. Rave on
14. Rock that boogie
15. Jailhouse rock
16. Truckin' and fuckin'
17. Wine, do yer stuff
18. Mama tried
19. Daddy's drinkin' up our christmas
20. Lawdy miss clawdy
21. Sunset on the sage
Added: June 4th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Live At Ebbetts Field at Bad Beat Records
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