Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were formed in 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were led by pianist George Frayne, who took the Commander Cody stage name. The rest of the group consisted of Billy C. Farlow (lead vocals/harmonica), John Titchy (rhythm guitar/ vocals), Bill Kirchen (lead guitar/vocals), Steve Davis (pedal steel guitar), Andy Stein (fiddle/sax), Bruce Barlow (bass) and Lance Dickerson (drums). Their music was a distinctive fusion of country and 50s rock & roll, driven by Frayne’s bar-room piano, with three strong vocalists and a wide array of instrumental ability (Andy Stein switched between fiddle and sax). After honing their craft in local bars for several years, they made the move to San Francisco and were signed to Paramount Records.
Their debut album came out in 1971 and contained a mixture of originals and covers, including three live recordings. Their music was more heavily based on traditional country forms than other country-rock bands of the time (The Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Pure Prairie League, etc.), despite their psychedelic-sounding name. These traditional roots ironically made them stand out from other more 'progressive' groups. Their cover of rockabilly singer Charlie Ryan's 1955 hit "Hot Rod Lincoln" (the one song on the album to be sung by Frayne himself) gave the group a surprise hit of their own, getting to #9 on the Billboard Top 100.
|> Hot Licks, Cold Steel & Truckers Favorites (1972)
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