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Nesmith concert from 1974

June 9, 2011 by  
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A Monkee’s Country Adventure

Topping the Amazing Zigzag bill, though, was an American pop star: ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith, in a unique solo appearance, backed only by pedal steel guitarist Red Rhodes from his Seventies country group, the First National Band. The Zigzag crew also threw in a complementary U.S. guest, California singer-songwriter John Stewart, who had composed the Monkees’ ’67 hit “Daydream Believer.” Nesmith and Stewart’s respective sets, also in the boxed set in full, are magnetic purity. Stewart’s voice is a rich, slightly rusted baritone, like a gentler Johnny Cash, while his probing romanticism in songs like “California Bloodlines” and “July You’re a Woman” sounds like a prescient bridge to the No Depression meditations of Uncle Tupelo and the Jayhawks.

Stripped of Monkee-shines, Nesmith was still Mr. Entertainment at the Roundhouse, spinning witty intro banter before giving straight strong renditions of grit’n’sparkle from before and after his TV life, including “Different Drum,” “Joanne” and “Some of Shelley’s Blues.” The remarkable fidelity of the Zigzag Concert tapes highlights the rugged warmth of Nesmith’s singing. His plaintive Texas drawl, ringed by the sweet gleam of Rhodes’ wise and spare playing, hangs in the attentive hush of the crowd. On this rare occasion, Nesmith was playing not just for fans but the faithful – people who knew his solo work mostly from a distance but by heart, thanks to Zigzag’s enthusiastic coverage.

via Fricke’s Picks: A Legendary 1974 Concert, Now on CD | Rolling Stone Music | Alternate Take by David Fricke.

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