Goose Creek Symphony, which to this day is denigrated by being lumped into that great unwashed mass of hippies who came to country music during the sixties, seems to be a great deal more than most of those folks. The Byrds were a good band, but clearly a by-product of Los Angeles and affected by the whole star system.
The Band, unquestionably, were one of the most talented ensembles that worked out the country rock thing. But they were Canadian and even Big Pink sounds a bit fey when compared to a lot of other efforts from the period. The Burritos Brothers? Well, there’s nothing better than that first album. Whatever Est. 1970 lacks in songwriting and shiny suites, Goose Creek Symphony makes up for in its guitar tones.
“Beautiful Bertha” isn’t too much more than a raved up rock song with a heavy bottom end. With the song not sounding like it came from some personal space and the production nonsense tossed on the drums, it’d be easy to write the song off. But between the group’s lead singer, Charlie Gearheart, and that twisted sounding guitar line, there’s no reason why such an otherwise staid song shouldn’t have wound up on a few psych comps detailing the era.
Between that track and the preceding “Talk About Goose Creek and Other Important Places,” Goose Creek Symphony sound like the lost link between the Fillmore Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry. This longest track makes further use of those tripped out guitar sounds listeners should figure the result of liquor more than herbs.
With the group clearly displaying its rough hewn rock side, there was still a need to exhibit the country soul and gospel aspect to what would contribute to Goose Creek’s overall sound. And apart from the disc’s opening number – “I'll Fly Away” – “Big Time Saturday Night” showcases some group vocals, a slower pacing and an song more overtly influenced by roots than rock.
As impressive as anything else, though, is the group’s take on “A Satisfied Mind.” Granted, it doesn’t reach too far past the original, but when a band can make a cover sound like something uniquely its own, that’s when listeners should completely understand the talent flying out of their speakers and into those unfulfilled ear holes.
Apparently these folks are kicking around again, digging up old albums an such. Catch ‘em live, it can’t be any worse then wasting money on the Dead or Dylan at this point.