the outlaws
The Outlaws

Now, ain’t this somethin’. I already had a driving song outlined to highlight from the Outlaws, their “Green Grass and High Tides” track. Since I’m a grown ass man, and I don’t play video games I didn’t realize that track was hell as popular as it is and well known among “gamers” for being the final song on Rockband. To hell with that noise, rather than highlight the obvious thrashing/rocking quality of their type of southern rock (check out Gunsmoke and Holiday for a taste of that), I think I’ll highlight the f’in gorgeous, softer (yet, somehow still driving) side. The songs I chose should work marvelously in any end of summer playlist.

Hailing from Tampa, Florida, the Outlaws were now part of the second generation of southern rockers. Growing up revering their patriarchs like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Poco, the Allmans, and hard rockers like the Stones or Led Zeppelin, they were at times hopelessly derivative and at times surprisingly original. What made them true originals was the way they could use their country chops to step back and present some genuinely affecting songs. Its almost, as if they wanted to get their guitar pyrotechnics out of their way on everything else so that they could focus their most memorable melodies and harmonies in these slower types of tracks.

the outlaws live
The Outlaws en Vivo
These two tracks are different snapshots in their musical timeline, by the time of creation of “Girl From Ohio” from Lady in Waiting and “Heavenly Blues” from Hurry Sundown a changing musical landscape, ie. the rise of punk, disco, and arena rock, was driving Southern Rock into a ditch, smokin’ its way out. Nothing could be less fruitful for the Outlaws to do, than stick these two beautiful country ballads (and a few more choice downtempo tunes) on albums that needed more hits and classic rock morsels in order to stay afloat in such a market. In the long run, who gives a red penny about what people thought the Outlaws needed to do, when you have those amazing harmonies, as heard in these two tracks, the last thing you want to hear is another 2 minute guitar solo. 

Short and sweet summation: “Heavenly Blues”, why do I love it? If you’re a huge fan of Big Star’s second side of #1 Record like I am, you’ll appreciate the fleetfooted feel of this love song (it sounds like the bastard child of “When My Baby’s Beside Me” and “Try Again” to my ears).

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Listen to Girl From Ohio at Grooveshark.

“Girl from Ohio”, why do I love it? I love it so much, because of its glorious kind of odd harmonies (deeper lead voice backed by two higher pitched vocalists), its gentle country dancehall duster swing, and its memorable chorus…if Ohio was smart they’d retire that f’in joke of a song they have as the official state song and put this one in its place. Just listening to this song makes me forget what a boring nether region of a state it is. The prettiness of this song actually makes me want to go and visit this amazing Ohio the Outlaws are singing about. I guess any place looks better when there’s a gorgeous someone waiting to greet you there. Anyway, more great southern tracks tomorrow…

Bonus tracks, why don’t you stick around for some three guitar Rock’n’Roll assault:

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and call it a night with a bottle of Beaujolais (another lovely song by the way)…

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