Music Review: Gram Parsons’ ‘Live 1973’

Gram Parsons & the Fallen Angels Live 1973

Live 1973 preserves a live radio broadcast from March 13 of that year by Gram Parsons and a backing group called the Fallen Angels. The show took place just as Parsons’s solo career was beginning—and ending. GP, the first of his two studio albums, had been released in January; in September, just six months after this broadcast, he died.

The concert—which was released previously in edited form and has now been beautifully remastered—is of interest primarily because so little of Parsons’s post-Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers days have been preserved on record. The disc is anything but revelatory: half the tunes are from GP, and several of the rest wound up on Grievous Angel; since Parsons was performing to promote new songs, not redefine old ones, what we get are mostly note-for-note copies of what surfaced on the studio LPs. Nor is there much that’s revealing in the between-song patter, though it is sort of interesting to hear both Parsons and Emmylou Harris introduced as virtual unknowns.

That said, it’s still a thrill to hear this great country-rock pioneer in a live setting. The performances and arrangements may be no surprise, but that doesn’t mean they’re not mostly terrific. The uninitiated should start with the two studio albums (now available on one CD), but serious fans will want this as well. Not counting a six-minute medley on Grevious Angel, it’s the only live solo Parsons we’ve got.

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