If you think Commander Cody’s story begins and ends with Hot Rod Lincoln, you don’t know the half of it. Singer-pianist George (Commander Cody) Frayne and his crew were one of the more interesting bands of the hippie era, fusing county, rockabilly, western swing, jump blues and more into an infectious amalgam that set the table for outfits like NRBQ. And while they didn’t write many of their own hits, they never met a classic cover they didn’t like — and couldn’t make their own. This two-disc set hosts a couple of dozen of ’em — from Good Rockin’ Tonight and Blue Suede Shoes to Jambalaya and Mama Tried — pulled from a handful of swell 1970s gigs recorded and preserved by Grateful Dead soundman (and LSD manufacturer) Owsley (Bear) Stanley. Admittedly, live Cody albums aren’t hard to come by — there are probably at least a dozen on the market. But you won’t find one that sounds better than this.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “A 2 CD set featuring a complete show (March 28, 1970) at the Family Dog, plus bonus tracks from five other nights at the Family Dog (February 27-March 29). With more than 40 tracks, each CD is more than 75 minutes, and spans a variety of musical styles, including country western, rock ’n’ roll, blues, rockabilly, zydeco, and more. It’s the most extensive collection of Commander Cody’s work from this time period, featuring rare and seldom-played songs. The band consists of Commander Cody (piano, vocals), Billy C. Farlow (vocals, harmonica), Bill Kirchen (guitar, vocals), Andy Stein (fiddle), Steve Davis, aka “The West Virginia Creeper” (pedal steel guitar), Paul “Buffalo” Bruce Barlow (bass), and Lance Dickerson (drums). It was recorded live at the soundboard by the legendary Grateful Dead soundman, Owsley Stanley, a.k..a. Bear, who is known for the purity of his “Sonic Journals” recordings. These tapes were transferred and restored to the most exacting audiophile standards, utilizing state-of-the-art Plangent Processes techniques to remove any subtle timing distortions created by the recording and playback devices. The mastering was done by Jeffrey Norman (Mockingbird Mastering), long-time collaborator with The Grateful Dead and Owsley Stanley.” What a ride.