Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#692 in the Series) is The Outlaws, Hurry Sundown.
The Outlaws first hit the music scene (at least as far as recordings go) in 1975. They actually had been together on and off since as early as 1967. Their debut album was simply titled The Outlaws. It contained a song that would be closely associated with the band for the rest of their career. That song would of course be “Green Grass and High Tides.” While it did help their popularity, I also thing it mistakenly categorized them as a southern rock band from then on. I use the word “mistakenly” because I really don’t believe that The Outlaws were a southern-rock band, because at least for the first half of their careers they were not.
I say this because I always felt that The Outlaws were more of a country-rock band, or possibly even closer to what we know today as an Americana band.
So what is the difference to me of what is country-rock and southern-rock? In my opinion southern rock is Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet etc. From a more technical standpoint, southern rock is purely electric guitar driven,along with some organ and other keyboards. I’m just referring to the string instrument aspect of the band.
Country-rock always had much more versatility. While they can throw a guitar army at you as well, they also would put down those axes and pull out goodies like mandolins, fiddles, pedal steel guitars even banjos. Maybe even just an acoustic guitar for a change would be nice. They would lean on harmony vocals much more as well. I loved the variety that they offered.
Did that stereotype hurt their record sales? No, heck no. Southern-rock bands can sell a ton. I just felt that from a musical stand point that it trapped them somewhat as their later album did become more basic electric guitar driven efforts that couldn’t come close to those first three, which included Hurry Sundown. In fact, to show that they were more country than southern-rock in their hearts, look no further than Outlaws guitarist (via New York) Henry Paul. He’s now in a great country act called Blackhawk. That project has been a huge part of his musical career.
The title track and most well-known song on the album was the “southern-ish” “Hurry Sundown,” but there were some fine moments on this album that were not. Give a close listen to some great tunes like “So Afraid.” This song comes close to bluegrass at time. It’s a wonderful piece of music. “Night Wines” is kind of a “half-and-halfer” if that makes any sense. Another favorite was Henry Paul’s “Heavenly Blues.”
Also worth noting is that this album was produced by Bill Szymczyk along with Ed Mashal. Bill of course spent years making The Eagles sound good, especially their harmonies. It was recorded at Coconut Grove near Miami, Fl.
Hughie Thomasson was a major part of The Outlaws. He left us in 2007. Another guitarist, Billy Jones has been gone since 1995. He was with the band until 1981. They are indeed missed. Mr. Jones had some major writing credits on this album. Mr. Thomasson’s guitar work and writing were so entrenched with the Outlaws sound, but not just that. His voice was a major piece of the puzzle as well.
No matter what you call The Outlaws’ music, one thing is clear. It’s gosh-darn good!
- “Gunsmoke” (Paul, Yoho) – 4:18
- “Hearin’ My Heart Talkin'” (Martin, Meskell) – 4:11
- “So Afraid” (Arnold) – 3:17
- “Holiday” (Jones) – 4:02
- “Hurry Sundown” (Thomasson) – 4:05
- “Cold and Lonesome” (Arnold) – 3:19
- “Night Wines” (Jones) – 4:50
- “Heavenly Blues” (Jones, Paul) – 3:47
- “Man of the Hour” (Jones, Thomasson) – 6:12
- Harvey Dalton Arnold – bass, guitar, vocals
- Billy Jones – electric guitar, vocals
- Henry Paul – guitar, vocals
- Hughie Thomasson – acoustic guitar, banjo, pedal steel, electric guitar, vocals
- Monte Yoho – drums
- Manual Labour – percussion
- Joe Vitale – ARP synthesizer, strings
- Official Website of The Outlaws
- See our piece on The Outlaws, Lady in Waiting
- Official Blackhawk Website