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Poco

The Epic Years 1972-1976

Review by Gary Hill
This new box set gathers up all of Poco’s albums on Epic in one place. Of course, you probably got that from the title, right? This all comes in a cardboard clamshell box. Each CD is in its own cardboard sleeve, replicating the original vinyl record. A nice booklet is also included here. The music on this set captures the 70s sound that was so popular quite well. You know, it’s that soft rock sound that’s part rock, part country and part folk music. Poco was one of the originators of that sound, and one of its premiere practitioners. The set is a good value, and a great way to have an instant Poco collection.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
CD One
            
A Good Feelin’ To Know (1972)
              
And Settlin' Down
This is an energized and rocking tune. It’s very much mainstream rock with some hints of country music built into it. It’s catchy and has some cool guitar lines. It’s a strong opener.
Ride the Country
A slower moving number, this still has some tasty guitar sound in the mix. It has more of a country edge to it. It really makes me think of something Neil Young might do.
I Can See Everything
An acoustic guitar based tune, this has a real folk vibe to it. It makes me think of Crosby, Stills and Nash a bit, but it also has hints of the sound that would become The Eagles. Then again, this was written by Timothy B. Schmit.
Go and Say Goodbye
Speaking of Stephen Stills, this song was written by him. It has a lot of electric country at its heart.
Keeper of the Fire
Another electrified, energized and rocking number, this is strong.
Early Times
Still an electrified piece, there is a healthy helping of country music in the mix here. This is another that makes me think of Neil Young. I really dig the guitar soloing on this thing.
A Good Feelin' to Know
This is such a cool song. It has a real 70s rock sound to it, packed with electric folk rock, country and more. This is definitely in line with the kind of thing you’d expect from The Eagles, but also from that whole movement of 70s soft rock.
Restrain
Another song penned by Timothy B. Schmit, this is another that sounds a lot like The Eagles. It’s mid-tempoed and so classy.
Sweet Lovin'
Textural atmospherics open this and hold it for more than a minute. Then a sea of voices, again calling to mind CSN, brings it in from there. The cut works to a gospel-infused piece. It’s a snowball kind of number, starting mellow and gradually building outward from there.
Bonus Tracks:
                                   
I Can See Everything (remix)
This remix of the previous cut seems to have a bit cooler groove in some ways. I almost think I prefer this to the other version.
A Good Feelin' to Know (single edit)
Here we get a single take of the title track. I bet you got that from the title and parenthetical, though, right? It works well in this format, too.
CD Two
                     
Crazy Eyes (1973)
                        
Blue Water
The opening acoustic jamming on this is quite country in the style. The vocals bring more of that element. There is really a lot of bluegrass built into this tune. This has some bouncy rock elements, too. It’s energized and catchy.
Fools Gold
This instrumental jam is fast paced and full-on bluegrass. It’s also a lot of fun.
Here We Go Again
Another cut written by Schmit, this is a folk rocker that’s strong. It has some good hooks and really works so well.
Brass Buttons
While this ballad was written by Gram Parsons, the tune has a lot of the balladic Eagles sound built into it. It’s slow moving, pretty and a bit sad.
A Right Along
Here we get an electric rocker. This has some killer guitar fills and a great energy. The hooks are solid, and this is one of the highlights of the second disc.
Crazy Eyes
Coming in slowly and a bit artsy, this works to a mellow balladic approach. The kettledrums lend some drama to the tune. There are horns in the mix on this one. Electric guitar rises upward after a bit, really sending this into a new direction. Then it shifts completely to a bluegrass breakdown. From there we’re back into mellower, stripped back zones. This piece is actually quite complex and dramatic. It works through so many different sections. In fact, there is so much variety here that I’d almost make the argument that this is progressive rock. It clearly is an epic length piece at over nine-and-a-half minutes.
Magnolia
A mellow balladic piece, this has a lot of folk rock built into it. It grows out a bit as it continues. It’s another that calls to mind Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Let's Dance Tonight
This is an energized and catchy country rocker that works quite well. It’s one of the standouts on this second disc, making it a great choice for closer to the album proper. I dig the smoking hot guitar soloing on this thing.
Bonus Tracks:
     
Nothin’s Still the Same (remix)
This balladic tune is precisely what you’d expect, classic soft rock, folk based music.
Get in the Wind (remix)
More of a rocker, this is a strong tune. It’s catchy and works well. I love the cool exploratory jam later in this piece. It has a real soaring vibe to it.
Believe Me (remix)
I really like this tune a lot. It has a lot of country and bluegrass in the mix. Yet, the dynamic arrangement has soaring moments that approach progressive rock zones. Some of those Neil Young elements are present here. The closing section on this is extended and quite tasty.
CD Three
             
Seven (1974)
                    
Drivin' Wheel
Coming in pretty and quite gentle, this is a great balladic piece at the beginning. It works out to more of an energetic rocker from there, though. This has some soaring parts, solid hooks and interesting guitar fills. There are also some intriguing twists and turns built into the piece.
Rocky Mountain Breakdown
Another fast paced tune, this thing is built with all kinds of bluegrass jamming at its core.
Just Call My Name
A much harder rocking number, this is very classy stuff. It has a definite 1970s sound, but yet seems timeless somehow, too. It’s all class.
Skatin'
Written by Schmit, this rocker makes me think of what you might get if you mixed The Eagles with REO Speedwagon. It’s a tasty rocker.
Faith in the Families
Piano starts this cut. They work it out into a cool mellower groove from there. Crosby, Stills and Nash are again a valid reference point. There is some killer, almost jazzy guitar work in the mix on the tune.
Krikkit's Song (Passing Through)
A balladic number, this is works well. The strings add to the arrangement. It’s another song written by Schmit. 
Angel
I dig the slide guitar on this tune. It has a blues rock meets folk vibe. This is another that feels a bit like something Neil Young would do. The vocal arrangement on this is cool, but that slide guitar really steals the show.
You've Got Your Reasons
The closer for this third disc is more of a rocking piece. It’s solid with good hooks and guitar sounds. There are strings filling out the arrangement. This has some of that Crosby, Stills and Nash vibe, but also Neil Young solo leanings.
CD Four
               
Cantomos (1974)
         
Sagebrush Serenade
Intricate acoustic guitar brings this into being. The vocals come in over the top of that arrangement. This has plenty of folk and country music in the mix. Mid-track the cut shifts out to a fast paced, energized bluegrass breakout.
Susannah
This tune is another with a lot of country in the mix. It’s a folk rocker in the lot of ways, though.
High and Dry
A faster paced song, this has plenty of country merged with more of a folk rock sound. This is another with a lot of CSN in the mix. This has some cool up-tempo jamming built into it.
Western Waterloo
Here we get another song that sounds a lot like Neil Young. I like the guitar fills quite a bit. The tune is a good mix of rock and country elements. There are hints of The Eagles on this, too.
One Horse Blue
I dig this rocking song a lot. It has some smoking hot country rock at its core, with the emphasis on the rock end of that equation. The vocal hooks are exceptional, and I love the music backing it all up.
Bitter Blue
A balladic piece, there is plenty of country and more in the mix here. Schmit wrote this song, and it does have some of the Eagles kind of element at its heart. While it is essentially a ballad, it does get rather powered up as it grows.
Another Time Around
More of a country folk rocker, this is effective. It’s not really what I’d consider a standout, but it does have some cool hooks. There is some particularly tasty guitar soloing on this along with some nice bits of slide guitar.
Whatever Happened to Your Smile
This folk styled piece has plenty of country music built into it. It’s a solid piece and nice addition to the Poco catalog. The guitar fills really bring that country element to bear.
All the Ways
I dig the guitar stylings that bring this into being. The cut works out to a more mainstream soft rock piece. It’s not one of my favorites from the group, and of the four studio albums here, I’d say this is the weakest closer. All that said, it has its charms.
CD Five
      
Live (1976)
                       
Medley: Blue Water / Fools Gold / Rocky Mountain Breakdown
This starts with some serious country music. The first part of the melody has so much bluegrass built into it. From there, though, we’re shown that it could have even more bluegrass as they really explore that zone in instrumental style. Then they work it into the final piece of the set bringing the same elements home. While I’m not sure if they were grinning when they recorded this thing, I’m sure they had the pickin’ part down. This whole medley would have been very much at home at the Grand Ole Opry.
Bad Weather
A country based number, this has folk rock in the mix, too. The slide guitar is classy. The vocal arrangement calls to mind CSN, but a lot of the music does, too. Of course, this isn’t that far removed from something like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” either.
Ride the Country
Here we get into more of the electrified rocking zones. The cut isn’t far removed from some The Eagles’ music. The guitar picking throughout is classy stuff.
Angel
Another that has a lot more rock built into it, I’m reminded of Neil Young to a large degree on this. The slide guitar is all class here, lending more blues than country.
High and Dry
Here we get some cool 1970s rock. There isn’t a lot of country here. Rather this is built on the mainstream folk rock based soft rock of the era.
Restrain
That whole Neil Young thing really comes to fruition on this tasty rocker.
A Good Feelin' to Know
A classic pop rock sound, good time music, is on hand here. This has a lot of Eagles type sound built into it. The vocal arrangement is all class, and this is such a killer closing piece. I dig the guitar soloing.
 
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