Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forgotten Music Thursday: Poco - Rose of Cimarron (1976)

None of the five members of Poco were commercially successful when Richie Furay exited the band in 1973 and without their acknowledged leader no one expected anything to change. In fact, at that point it wouldn't have been surprising if the band simply dissolved. They didn't, and when one of their many different lineups finally charted two big hit singles, "Crazy Love" and "Heart Of The Night," from their 1978 album, Legend, most of the world was surprised to learn the long player became a certified gold record.

Poco's 1976 album, Rose of Cimarron (#89 on Billboard's Hot 100), featured the remaining quartet of Rusty Young, Paul Cotton, Timothy B. Schmit, and George Grantham. Their streak of commercial disappointments remained in tact but fortunately, with Furay gone, everyone except drummer Grantham, proved they could write. When you add in the band's always pleasant vocals and their excellent musicianship (supplemented this time around by several studio musicians led by Al Garth) Poco gave the world as fine an album as they ever made.

The record had noticeable differences when compared to Poco's earlier work. For the most part Rose shunned almost all of the country-rock and bluegrass colorings that the Furay version of the outfit was known for as they opted for lighter soft-rock productions instead. Only "Company's Coming/Slowpoke" that closed side one ventured into their classic, familiar terrain.

The highlight is the absolutely marvelous opening track (#94 on the Billboard Hot 100) that gave the album its name. With composer Young's lyrics, gorgeous melody, and pedal steel, and shared lead vocals by Cotton and Schmit, the almost seven minute number became one of the outstanding creations of the band's career.

The song is based on a real historical figure, Rose Dunn, a young, nineteenth century woman raised in Oklahoma who fell in love with an outlaw named George "Bittercreek" Newcomb. Dunn was never really a criminal but she was always kind to Newcomb and his gang so in return they idolized her. Eventually, Dunn's two brothers, both U. S. marshalls, collected a bounty by killing Newcomb in front of their house when he came to visit Rose.

Dunn later married and lived out her life as a solid, law-abiding citizen. Although her exact age was unknown she lived into her 70s and passed away in the early 1950s.

Rose of Cimarron is considered a minor work in the legendary band's catalog. It's quite pleasant without being substantial yet it opened with a truly memorable moment that is an important part of Poco's legacy.

Listen to "Rose of Cimarron" HERE.

3 comments:

  1. I never have given Poco enough of a listen, given how many children of the Byrds (chicks?) there were to follow...

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  2. Have always loved Poco! Great harmonies and chord progressions. So glad I found this blog!

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  3. Please come to Austin! !! I've been a huge fan since '76. Love you guys. Nancy

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