Saturday, December 19, 2015

elite hotel

Emmylou Harris and The Hot Band were hooked in the first degree on sin and salvation and gone like the wayward wind walking the long way home just to think of an alibi.   Elite Hotel came out less than a year after her acclaimed Pieces of the Sky album. It was a busy year during which she made appearances on  Heart Like a Wheel   and  Prisoner in Disguise  with Linda Ronstadt, Home Plate  with Bonnie Raitt,    Two Lane Highway  with Pure Prairie League,    All I Can Do  with Dolly Parton,  Desire  with Bob Dylan,   Mike Auldridge  with Mike Auldridge,  Sleepless Nights  with The Flying Burrito Brothers,   Starland Vocal Band  with Starland Vocal Band,   and   Texas Cookin' with Guy Clark.   

Warner Brothers executives agreed to record her next album as long as she got herself "a hot band".  She brought in a revolving cast of studio aces, including guitarist James Burton and pianist Glen Hardin from Elvis Presley's touring band.    Elite Hotel was recorded during June with producer  Brian Ahern and engineers Bradley Hartman, Rudy Hill, Stuart Taylor, and Miles Wilkinson.   The Hot Band included:     Brian Ahern on acoustic guitar and bass;   Mike Auldridge on dobro;   Byron Berline on fiddle and mandolin;   Dianne Brooks on backing vocals;   James Burton electric guitar;   Rodney Crowell on  electric guitar and backing vocals;   Rick Cunha on acoustic guitar;  Nick DeCaro on string arrangements;  Hank DeVito on pedal steel;   Jonathan Edwards on backing vocals;  Amos Garrett on electric guitar;   Emory Gordy, Jr. on bass  and backing vocals;   Glen D. Hardinon piano, electric piano, and string arrangements;  Emmylou Harris vocals and acoustic guitar;   Ben Keith on pedal steel;   Bernie Leadon acoustic guitar and backing vocals;   Bill Payne on piano;   Herb Pedersen on acoustic guitar, banjo, and backing vocals;   Mickey Raphael and harmonica;   Linda Ronstadt on backing vocals;   Fayssoux Starling on backing vocals;   John Starling on acoustic guitar and backing vocals;   Ron Tutt on drums;   and  John Ware on drums.    

Harris says the album and tour with The Hot Band made her reputation; but left her $250,000 in debt:    "Well, we were damn good, but [the name of the band] was slightly tongue-in-cheek.  It came about because someone at the record company – and this was the early 1970s, remember – decided, 'We gotta put the chick singer together with a hot band.' ... I made it all back in record sales – so it turned out to be a smart business move. That was something else I learned from Gram, 'If you pay the best, you'll play with the best.'...Right at the beginning, the Hot Band was just me and Rodney [Cromwell], sitting late into the night, singing harmony and strumming guitars,"

The eclectic mix of songs on the album set her apart from other country artists at the time:    Elite Hotel had country hits with ‘One Of These Days’, ‘Together Again’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’, remakes of hits by serious country artists [George Jones, Buck Owens and Patsy Cline, respectively]. ‘Satan’s Jewel Crown’ was there to celebrate the Louvins. The hits themselves were classic country, but the LP had a Beatles song [‘Here, There And Everywhere’], so there were murmurings from country purists, and I started to wonder: ‘Am I being true to Gram? Is this what I set out to do?’ I wanted to be a country artist. But I was being true to who I was, greatly influenced by The Beatles and Dylan. I was a child of my generation who’d discovered country, which became the Big Bang for me, but all these other elements were still swirling around in there. So the eclecticism of those early records was very real for me as I was finding my voice. I needed to do that to get to the point where I could narrow my parameters.”

Elite Hotel  became her first number one album on the country chart riding the wave of two number one country singles.  Harris would admit:   “I know what’s happening but it hasn’t really hit me yet...I guess it’s just been a kind of long hard road. In a way I’ve been at this for almost ten years on almost all kinds of levels – from waiting tables to playing in New York clubs and not having anybody listen to me, to making a terrible first record for a bankrupt company to working with Gram.  I suppose working with Gram was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. There was just something very magical about the experience. It was so much fun to just get up there, sing with him, and not worry about carrying a show myself. Everyone paid all this attention to me and told me how good I was and all that. It was really like being some kind of fairytale princess. Somehow that affected me more than all this that’s happening now...Maybe I’m on time delay.”


"Together Again" 

"Sweet Dreams"

"One of These Days"

Elite Hotel 
full album:

"Amarillo" (Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell) – 3:05
"Together Again" (Buck Owens) – 3:56
"Feelin' Single, Seein' Double" (Wayne Kemp) – 2:34
"Sin City" (Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman) – 3:57
"One of These Days" (Earl Montgomery) – 3:03
"Till I Gain Control Again" (Rodney Crowell) – 5:40
"Here, There and Everywhere" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 3:59
"Ooh Las Vegas" (Gram Parsons, Ric Grech) – 3:47
"Sweet Dreams" (Don Gibson) – 4:03
"Jambalaya (On The Bayou)" (Hank Williams) – 3:05
"Satan's Jewel Crown" (Edgar L. Eden) – 3:13
"Wheels" [with Jonathan Edwards] (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) – 3:13

bonus tracks:
"You're Running Wild" [with Rodney Crowell] (Ray Edenton, Don Winters) – 1:44

"Cajun Born" [with Jo-El Sonnier] (Jo-El Sonnier, Kermit Goell) – 3:19

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