07 September 2015
The Stone Poneys - 1967 - The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5
I dunno. Maybe I'm a bit too much of a youngin' to have Linda Ronstadt on my radar. I know the name, the voice seems somewhat familiar, but I couldn't recall any of her hits. I'm not even sure what "Different Drum" sound like. This is not to say that the music sucks, I'm just saying that I'm coming towards this album from the dawn of Ronstadt's career with absolutely no context. The L.A. fuzzy studio is definitely in place, along with some hickory tones wafting in from Elektra's west coast offices. I'd be willing to wager that I'm hearing a little of the L.A. session pros the Wrecking Crew in the tracking, but I'm going by ear alone on that one. What we've got in the end is a very well-crafted folk rock concoction that can at least make a respectable showing in the late 60's album race, although I don't think it would end up a finalist.
The Stone Poneys were not your kids screwing around in the garage. There's a soon-to-be A-list vocalist in place, the songwriting is several notches above average, and if the band is handling the instrumentation on their own, they have a lot of groovy spit and polish (and if it's the Wrecking Crew, that's cool too). It's like 30 minutes with a very chilled out A.M. 60's pop station. I keep thinking of selecting so-and-so track as the "should've been" hit single, but most of them actually come out that way. I guess today it's "Orion," but it might be "If I Were You" tomorrow. I also went looking for the track that crosses the twee/cheese barrier, but the band miraculously seems to avoid that (if presses, though, "All the Beautiful Things"). So if Fairport Convention was the British Jefferson Airplane, then the Stone Poneys would be the American Fairport Convention. I swear it makes sense in the end.
You often delve into an artist's baby pictures to find them smeared in diaper butter, but this sounds pretty straight up solid to me. I suppose if I follow this road to a collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, we'd find the trippier vibes drying up, but we've got a twilight mist wafting through this album to give it a nice spot in the Psychedelic Garage.