Formed in the aftermath of the Dead’s American Beauty classic, NRPS graduated from opening shows for their heroes to forging a decent career. With the instrumental talents and songwriting skills of John ‘Marmaduke’ Dawson and co-guitarist David Nelson tuned to an über-hippie blend of country-rock, the group knocked out classy numbers such as Glendale Train and the moody Dirty Business with assists from Jerry Garcia’s pedal steel and banjo.
This two-disc set collates all of their better moments. The New Riders made eight albums in the early 70s, and the compilers haven’t missed any tricks by including bassist Dave Torberts’ Groupie or the dope anthem Panama Red – lent a real swing time thrust thanks to Norbert Putnam at the controls. The quality drops off when gaze turns to the so-so Gypsy Cowboy album and the Bob Johnson-produced Oh, What A Mighty Time (a cover of Bob Dylan’s Farewell, Angelina aside). Still, Sage lovers can find plenty here to back the view that Dawson and Nelson’s troupe once gave The Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco a run for their money.
Great picking and decent harmonies abound. The New Riders never took themselves too seriously, yet warrant a second listen.