“Lothario in A”: Red Rhodes on the Elektra Label

It was a bit of a sea change, prestige-wise, for Red Rhodes to go from “lowly” Crown (and I say that with affection) to Jac Holzman’s esteemed Elektra label.  Aside from 1970’s supergroup experiment with Red Rhodes, Buddy Emmons, Sneaky Pete, Jay Dee Maness & Rusty Young – Suite Steel:  The Pedal Steel Guitar Album – Red released his first proper solo album in 1973, Velvet Hammer in a Cowboy Band, on Elektra imprint, Countryside (a Mike Nesmith enterprise, as it turns out).  Red gets a wonderful shimmering effect on his steel guitar in the soaring instrumental, “Lothario in A”:

Thanks to Discogs for the musician credits:

Producer:  Michael Nesmith
Arranger & Steel Guitar:  Red Rhodes
Acoustic Guitar:  Dr. Robert K. Warford
Electric Guitar:  Jay Lacy
Bass:  Bill Graham, Colin Camero & Jim Stallings
Drums:  Danny Lane
Piano & Liner Notes:  David Barry
Art Direction & Design:  Dean O. Torrence (of Jan & Dean)

Red Rhodes Elektra LP

According to Jac Holzman’s memoir, Becoming Elektra:

“Mike Nesmith’s Countryside label was an intriguing venture based, in part, on the premise that Nesmith thought it possible to develop a label in California based upon a Western take on country music, and he cited Buck Owens as a model.  Holzman thought it worth exploring the idea of a small ancillary label working a potent vein of American music, separate from Elektra’s offices.

‘Nesmith could bring unusual talented people together and create a supportive environment,’ says Holzman.  “He was whip-smart and a pro in the studio.  Countryside was an effort to develop a different kind of country music, where country and cowboy and folk merges.  We built Michael his own studio around the same analogue mixing console that recorded L.A. Woman.  Unfortunately, Countryside was the first thing David Geffen dismantled when he took over [as head of newly-merged Elektra/Asylum].’

Only two albums appeared:  Garland Frady’s splendid Pure Country and one by Nesmith’s renowned steel guitarist, Red Rhodes, Velvet Hammer in a Cowboy Band.”

At the time of Geffen’s big deal, Jac would be appointed senior VP and Chief Technology Officer for Warner Brothers-Elektra-Atlantic — an emerging giant now challenging Columbia for supremacy.  Important to note that by 1970 Jac’s label, Elektra, had already been sold for $11 million to the Kinney Corporation.

This album, interestingly enough, was also released as volume 10 in the Steel Guitar Record Club series — other steel guitarists profiled in this series include Speedy West, Jerry Byrd, Buddy Charleton, Buddy Emmons, Herb Remington, Alvino Rey, Lloyd Green, Curly Chalker, Tom Brumley, Hal Rugg, Jimmy Day, Jay Dee Maness & Bobby Black, among others.

“Pony Tail”: Red Rhodes on the Crown Label

How inspiring to see that Orville J. “RedRhodes – the legendary steel guitarist who, by the late 1960s, was one of the most in-demand session musicians on the West Coast – got his start on Crown.

           Once a day – 1961                blue blue day – 1962           Steel Guitar Rag – 1963

Red Rhodes - Crown aRed Rhodes - Crown bRed Rhodes - Crown c

Pony Tail,” from 1965’s Guitars Go Country LP, sounds – most intriguingly – like some long-lost Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant number:

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play ”Pony Tail'” by Red Rhodes.]

Red Rhodes - Crown LP

Red Rhodes would go on to release a live album on indie label, Happy Tiger, in 1969 — Red Rhodes & the Detours + Live at the Palomino — and his backup band, interestingly, would include Jerry Cole, another Crown alumnus.

Everyone Loves Red:  A Selected Red Rhodes Sessionography*

The Ventures in Space – The Ventures – 1964
Begin – The Millennium – 1968
Notorious Byrd Brothers – The Byrds – 1968
The Wichita Train Whistle Sings – Michael Nesmith – 1968
Bubble Gum, Lemonade & Something for Mama – Cass Elliot – 1969
Instant Replay – The Monkees – 1969
It’s Not Killing Me – Mike Bloomfield – 1969
John Phillips – John Phillips – 1969
Hand Sown, Home Grown – Linda Ronstadt – 1969
Nancy – Nancy Sinatra – 1969
Weeds – Brewer & Shipley – 1969
The Blue Marble – Sagittarius – 1969
Magnetic South – Michael Nesmith – 1970
Loose Salute – Michael Nesmith – 1970
Sweet Baby James – James Taylor – 1970
Tom Rush – Tom Rush – 1970
Nevada Fighter – Michael Nesmith – 1971
Possum – Possum – 1971
Lead Free – B. W. Stevenson – 1972
One Man Dog – James Taylor – 1972
Rhymes and Reasons – Carole King – 1972
Son of Schmilsson – Harry Nilsson – 1972
A Song for You – The Carpenters – 1972
Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts – 1972
Tantamount to Treason – Michael Nesmith – 1972
And the Hits Just Keep on Comin’ – Michael Nesmith – 1972
Willis Alan Ramsey – Willis Alan Ramsey – 1972
Five & Dime, 1973 – David Ackles – 1973
Pure Country, 1973 – Garland Frady – 1973
Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash – Michael Nesmith – 1973
Valley Hi – Ian Matthews – 1973
Calabasas – B. W. Stevenson – 1974
L.A. Turnaround – Bert Jansch – 1974
Black Bach – Lamont Dozier – 1974
The Prison – Michael Nesmith – 1974
Diamonds & Rust – Joan Baez – 1975
Marriott – Steve Marriott – 1975
Midnight on the Water – David Bromberg – 1975
Sweet America – Buffy Sainte-Marie – 1976
Frolicking in the Myth – Steven Fromholz – 1977
Road Songs – Hoyt Axton – 1977
The Way I Am – Billy Preston – 1981
Tropical Campfires – Michael Nesmith – 1992

*Proof of popularity courtesy of Wikipedia