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Various Artists (from the album My Friend - A Tribute to Rusty Young available on Blue Elan Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Lately, tragedy has become a postscript to Poco’s lengthy legacy. The passing of Paul Cotton, one of the band’s prime musical architects, exactly one year ago, was sad enough. The composer of such songs as “Bad Weather”, “Heart of the Night”, “Indian Summer”, and “Ride the Country”, he helped revitalize the band when he replaced founding member Jim Messina in 1970 during a critical juncture in their career.
Nevertheless, when Rusty Young passed unexpectedly earlier this year, it effectively marked the end of an era. The only original member of the seminal combo that formed from the last vestiges of the Buffalo Springfield, he effectively took the helm of the band and ensured that it remained an ongoing entity. (Young was originally recruited for the Springfield’s final sessions and asked to contribute pedal steel to Richie Furay’s lingering ballad “Kind Woman”). After the departure of Poco’s prime players — Furay, Timothy B. Schmit, and Jim Messina — it was left to Rusty Young to keep their legacy alive and move forward with an entirely new ensemble.
With all his efforts going towards the preservation of Poco, Young had little interest in taking the solo spotlight. After all, there was little need. Nevertheless, he released his first and only album, Waitin’ for the Sun, belatedly, in 2017. Two years later, he shared a new song, "Listen to Your Heart”, as a digital single benefiting a local animal charity in Steelville, Missouri.
That brings us to My Friend, a tribute to Young’s music and memory courtesy of his most recent label Blue Elan Records. Executive produced by label founder, Kirk Paisch, it was undertaken prior to Young’s passing but completed before Young had a chance to hear the results. Only a handful of songs benefit from a familiarity factor, those being “Heart of the Night”, “Crazy Love”, “Call It Love”, and “Where Did the Time Ago” in particular. Many of the other offerings are less known, affirming the feeling that Young wasn’t given the full recognition he deserved in his role as a singer and songwriter. Nevertheless, a number of artists affiliated with the Blue Elan label do their best to reverse that standing, and given the contributions of Bill Lloyd and two of Rusty Young’s colleagues in the last Poco incarnation, bassist/vocalist Jack Sundred and keyboardist Michael Webb, a continuum is maintained. All three play a role in Cimarron 615, a band that appears destined to somehow carry on under the Poco banner. So, while the performances are generally on target, the reminiscing and reflecting shared by the participants in the liner notes adds both credence and context.
Even if My Friend fails to bring Young the acclaim he deserves — and it ought to — at very least it provides a fine compendium of his work in lieu of an actual anthology. Hopefully, it’s just a beginning. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of My Friend - A Tribute to Rusty Young’ from AMAZON
For more information and purchase options, please visit My Friend - A Tribute to Rusty Young website
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