With zero chart successes to boast about, The Dillards were let go by their label Elektra in 1970. They next released a couple of singles on White Whale Records, but they went nowhere. Around this time Herb Pederson also left, and was replaced by Billy Ray Lathum. The band now consisted of Rodney Dillard (lead vocals/guitar/dobro), Lathum (banjo/guitar), Dean Webb (mandolin), Mitch Jayne (bass) and Paul York (drums). They then signed with Anthem Records, and managed to finally break into the Top 100 with the single "It's About Time" (albeit only at #92). In 1972 they opened for Elton John on his first American tour, and at the same time their sixth album was released.
Roots And Branches saw the band move fully towards rock music. With electric guitar and drums on almost all songs, it was pure Californian country-rock, with both rootsy flavours (banjo and mandolin still audible amidst the rock instrumentation) and some real strong pop hooks. The songs were mostly covers (including Gib Guilbeau's "Big Bayou"), with a couple of Rodney Dillard originals and an a-capella rendition of the traditional "Man Of Constant Sorrow". With smooth production, great instrumentation and superb vocal harmonies, the end result was a truly wonderful album, showing how drastically the band's sound had changed since their debut almost ten years ago. It also had one song that could surely have been a hit if released as a single, Paul Parrish's "One A.M." The album did actually become their most successful, breaking into the album charts at a modest #79.
Copperfields (1970) <|> Tribute To The American Duck (1973)
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