After our extended layover in Michigan for the past two columns, I'm happy to be back in the Southwest, enjoying the sounds of Enchantment: Songs About New Mexico, a 1976 compilation of smooth country and folk sounds put out by KRST, found on the FM dial at 92.3., which today features modern country sounds, none as anachronistic and good timey as those featured on this record.
This being a compilation, I thought it would be fun to just let the record play and review each track a bit.
The album kicks off with Watermelon Mountain Jug Band doing "Turquoise Tickle," a "fine tribute to the Southwest's favorite rock." WMJB is comprised of familiar elements: banjo, harmonica, mandolin, saw, whistle and autoharp.
We move into "Under the Blue Skies of New Mexico," with Bonnie Bluhm singing over an acoustic guitar. It's pretty hippie sounding, almost an Emmylou thing, but warbley, too, like Joni Mitchell, as she moans on about the "ghosts of dead conquistadors." The track goes on for a few verses too long, but I could see the No Depression crowd digging it.
Michael Herrick gives us "Sante Fe," a rolling bit of country rock. It's easy going fare, not unlike something Jackson Browne or the Eagles would do. The double tracked vocals sound especially nice, and the mandolin flourishes are really cool.
Cadillac Bob was a new band at the time of Enchantment's release. His contribution is called "Goin' to Santa Fe," and it's a bluesy shuffle, done in Mexicago style. It sounds a bit like a desert dwelling Van Morrison, and features a pretty silly sax solo. I like it, though.
Powdrell L.T.D. offers the first real surprise of the LP, the funky, AOR soul meets disco track "It's the Real Thing." It's pretty damn white sounding, but the flute playing is pretty inspired and the drums actually cook. Get this into the hands of a crate digging hip hop producer and you could have a pretty mean break.
AMBR's "Homesick Albuquerque Blues" bites pretty hard on the Linda Rondstat vibe, but it's really sweet, drummer Christopher Augustine's pretty solid in the pocket, benefiting the song with stuff he picked up on the Johnny Carson show, according to the liner notes.
Tusker open side two, with a smooth track called "Rainmaker." Like most everything else on the disc, it sounds a lot like The Eagles. Particularly "Take It Easy" in this case. And why not? The Eagles were moving some serious units back then. Singer Lisa Gilkyson has some serious pipes, too. I bet these guys killed live, as demonstrated by the drum breakdown at the end of the song.
Ron Frost's "New Mexico" sounds like a John Denver, with swelling strings and all. The lyrics are especially silly, but the harmonies are sublime.
Barbara Walker's "Turquoise Man" (jeez, there don't seem to be many thematic elements to draw from in New Mexico) is a mellow torch song, with some "El Paso" sounding horns. It's fairly mariachi influenced, but mostly kind of boring.
"Albuquerque Girls" by the Planets finds singer Steve Morelock asking a woman to be "his lady till the desert fades away." It's a little to sparse to have been a big hit, but the slide guitar solo is my favorite bit of playing on the record.
C.J. & Friends deliver "Sunset of Santa Fe," the album's coolest track. It's a heavy bit of country rock, with some almost psychedelic touches. The liner notes that "C.J." had something to do with the 13th Floor Elevators, known for their howling hit "You're Gonna Miss Me," but I haven't been able to figure out exactly what he did with the band. Notes also say he played with The Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson. Some pedigree.
The Last Minute Ramblers end things with a song that thankfully isn't called "Turquoise and Sante Fe and Albuquerque." It's called "Golden Inn Song," and it's a hilarious honky tonk stomp, sounding like the theme song to some lost country bumpkin sitcom. It's recorded live and features a bleeped out swear word. Pretty fun.
Details: Enchantment: Songs About New Mexico, issued by KRST, 92.3 FM, 1976
Google Search Reveals: I found next to nothing on the album itself, minus this entry on Rate Your Music, but Watermelon Mountain Jug Band has a site, as does Bonnie Bluhm. There are some YouTube videos of Cadillac Bob, and this awesome one from The Planets, who I believe are the same band from the record:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Who Bought This: Groovy folks with mustaches and denim tuxedos in New Mexico.
If anyone is interested in a full rip of the album, leave a comment, and I'll see what I can do. For now, enjoy C.J. & Friends doing "Sunset From Santa Fe." And if you have a record you think would make a good Obscuro entry, please let me know. I'd be especially interested in hearing some weirdo soul, reggae, or rap. Keep on digging, buddies!