Chris Darrow: next year's best country-rock reissue

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Chris Darrow was one of those 60s session musicians who played with a ton of famous bands and singers but remains completely unknown outside of music-industry figures and intense record geeks. He cofounded the cultishly adored psych-pop group Kaleidoscope, played in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, toured in Linda Ronstadt's band, and recorded with Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, and Hoyt Axton.

He also made a few records of his own, including his 1972 solo debut, Artist Proof. It's been out of print for decades, but Drag City's reissuing it next month. I just got a promo of it and I'm already addicted to it, so I'm going to start bugging people about it now. Artist Proof sits right in the postpsychedelic country-rock pocket, with hints of Townes Van Zandt and the Eagles and a whole lot of Gram Parsons. The songs are countrified without the country cliches a lot of artists were leaning on at the time, and Darrow's got a clear Parsonsy tenor that floats over the supple grooves that he and the cream of the L.A. sideman community were lay down. If you have any sort of soft spot for mellow country music redolent of sunny, stoned drives up to Malibu, you'll probably be addicted too.

It'll be available for preorder through Drag City very soon. In the meantime you can check out this homemade-looking video for Darrow's "Shawnee Moon" that cuts off at the end but is the only thing from Artist Proof that turned up on YouTube.

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