Nashville West - Nashville West (1968)

Not released until 1979
Nashville West were an early American country-rock group.

Nashville West are often credited with being among the early pioneers in the fusion of country and rock. But their story is much more complicated than them simply being one of the first country-rock groups, and it's made more so by the fact that they never actually recorded a proper album!
They were made up of multi-instrumentalists Gib Guilbeau, Gene Parsons, Wayne Moore and Clarence White. They took their name from the Nashville West club they played as house band for in El Monte, California. However it's unclear if they ever actually called themselves Nashville West - they were also referred to as The Reasons, Gib Guilbeau & The Reasons, The Gary Paxton Band and Cajun Gib & Gene. When playing their club gigs, they were often joined on stage by other musicians including Gram Parsons, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Glen D. Hardin and Lloyd Green. When not playing live they acted as studio band for maverick producer Gary S. Paxton. They subsequently appeared on a vast number of obscure singles and albums released on Paxton's Bakersfield International label (including The Gosdin Brothers' Sounds Of Goodbye album). Many of their recordings were released as Cajun Gib & Gene with Gib Guilbeau as lead signer - see Lousiana Rain and Cajun Country. Most of Paxton's Bakersfield International artists were country acts, but they were doing things differently to the conservative Nashville record labels, and in retrospect many of the origins of the country-rock genre can be found here (several years before The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds made the genre take off).
Anyway, the Nashville West group never recorded an album to be released under their own name. However Gene Parsons did record a live gig, and in 1979 it was released under the guise of a self-titled album, and this is the only record available of the four musicians playing together as a group of their own. Recorded on a two-track recorder, it's not the greatest sound quality. It consists mostly of country covers, including "Love Of The Common People", "The Green Green Grass Of Home" and "Sing Me Back Home". With Parsons on drums, White on electric guitar and Moore on bass, Guilbeau performs as lead singer on most of the songs (though Moore and Parsons sing on a few). White's guitar is to the forefront, and it's easy to see how he came to be regarded as the best country-rock guitarist around this time (he was playing on records by Rick Nelson, The Byrds, The Gosdin Brothers and many others).
Later in 1968 Clarence White joined The Byrds, and was soon followed by Parsons. Nashville West subsequently disbanded. Guilbeau and Moore formed a new group under the name The Reasons, which eventually evolved into Swampwater. Guilbeau and Parsons reunited years later with The Flying Burrito Brothers.

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3 comments:

brainmatter/ed/s said...

So great to be able to grab this show while I have it on my mind.
I've heard my share of decent music in dirty old bars and road stops but I just can't imagine hearing music this good.
I would have made up an excuse to hang for a day or two and hear them again. Clarence is off the planet somewhere...

Collin Cook said...

Thanks for the post. I appreciate all your work and love the site!

swazifiction said...

Thanks for this, it helps to hear just what McGuinn heard and why he invited White and Parsons to help restart the Byrds. It also gives us a chance to realise just how much Mcguinn added too! Parsons' and White's playing is mostly outstanding but the solo singing is mostly execrable. Actually the Mcguinn/White/Parsons/Yorke version of the Byrds was a great but still criminally underrated band. 'Dr Byrds' is one of the best country rock albums ever recorded.