Although this wasn't my first introduction to Emmylou (first hearing her harmonize with Linda Ronstadt on her HEART LIKE A WHEEL album) it was my first time I heard her singing solo. It was because of this album that Emmylou has remained my favorite musical artist for over 25 years now. Listening to it after all this time gives me the same thrill as it did in 1975 when I first heard it and knew I had to see this singer in concert ASAP, which I did that same year. My favorite cut, is without a doubt, BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM since it's also my all-time favorite Emmylou song. My least favorite is probably FOR NO ONE and perhaps for no particular reason other than I never was a big Beatles fan and this always reminds me of the Beatles. I do like THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN but then I'm a big Merle Haggard fan so there you go. I love Herb Pedersen's harmonies on IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE, making it another favorite cut. BEFORE BELIEVING is also a favorite as is SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. The others, BLUEBIRD WINE, COAT OF MANY COLORS, QUEEN OF THE SILVER DOLLAR although enjoyable fit somewhere in the middle. TOO FAR GONE fits somewhere between the favorites and the middle. What strikes me most on this early album is the way her voice hasn't changed that much. Her voice is so pristine in this album and although I do note a grittiness in her voice not there previously, her voice is still strong and so distinctive. Ranking of this on my favorite Emmylou CDs? Probably #1. Probably because of BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM and IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE but because it struck me so emotionally the first time I ever heard it. And also likely because the first two of three times I saw Emmylou in concert this was the only album she had out so these songs are indelibly etched in my brain. Anyway, this album is a MUST if you're a true Emmylou fan
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Emmylou was a delightful discovery nearly 30 years ago, and her first album remains a joy. Before she started experimenting with different genres several albums down the road, before age took a toll on her voice and she adapted with grace, producing masterpieces like "Wrecking Ball", there was this pure clean gorgeous voice like no other. And there was a unique sound that hit the ground running here, with a perfect album in which every song was a solid winner. This isn't today's "alt-country", and indeed it may well be more country than some of Emmylou's 21st-century fans are comfortable with. Back in the day, we hippie sorts had nothing to do with official country music, and the official world of country music would have nothing to do with Emmylou. She was nowhere near to moving to Nashville yet, and was played on the same FM stations that played rock music. Her music was a continuation of music we then put in the country-rock genre, which was considered every bit as cool as any other sort of rock in the early 70's. In a rock historian's book, maybe the driving force was Gram Parsons joining the Byrds and helping create their "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" album. But out in the real world, no one had heard of Gram Parsons, was unlikely to have heard more than a song or two from that album, and what brought country-rock into our worlds were later incarnations of the Byrds, Bob Dylan doing "Nashville Skyline", and lesser bands like New Riders of the Purple Sage or Commander Cody. Those are the sounds that primed us for the far more enduring music of Emmylou Harris. Without denying Gram Parsons his due, he is known today largely because of the work Emmylou Harris started so brilliantly here. Some have said below that her covers of other people's songs were often superior to the originals, and I agree. I'll go a step farther and say that it's her covers of music that Parsons wrote or loved that not only put it on the map, but that made it sound good enough for it to acquire what eventually became a huge audience. I don't think that detracts from his talents, but it speaks to the beauty of her voice and the arrangements and production on this album and those that followed. Listening to this CD decades later, it is striking how country it is, and hard to remember how easily we accepted this music in the rock world way back when. It's nearly as hard to imagine why her work wasn't accepted at the time by the country audience. And nowadays, when her voice is an entirely different sort of instrument, it's impossible to imagine why reviewers at the time thought her voice wasn't strong enough for a solo artist, and that she was better suited to being a backup singer. Though I was a huge fan, I felt there was some truth to the criticisms, and what drew me in were her soft, unspeakably sweet, angelic interpretations of slower songs. Tastes were just so different then. Compared to all the lovely and popular, but much-weaker, girlish voices of today's alt-country world, the Emmylou of the 70's belted songs out with a voice whose strength I had nearly forgotten. It is stunning to listen to today, after years of spending much more time with Wrecking Ball. Emmylou really rocked country long before "crossover" was invented. This is probably an essential Emmylou album for anyone who is a fan of her 70's and 80's work. If you're browsing because you have a love affair with Wrecking Ball or later work, this may not be your cup of tea. To those of us who were there, this is the voice we loved doing the music we loved, and represents Emmylou at her peak - or, rather, one of her many peaks.
Although this wasn't my first introduction to Emmylou (first hearing her harmonize with Linda Ronstadt on her HEART LIKE A WHEEL album) it was my first time I heard her singing solo. It was because of this album that Emmylou has remained my favorite musical artist for over 25 years now. Listening to it after all this time gives me the same thrill as it did in 1975 when I first heard it and knew I had to see this singer in concert ASAP, which I did that same year. My favorite cut, is without a doubt, BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM since it's also my all-time favorite Emmylou song. My least favorite is probably FOR NO ONE and perhaps for no particular reason other than I never was a big Beatles fan and this always reminds me of the Beatles. I do like THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN but then I'm a big Merle Haggard fan so there you go. I love Herb Pedersen's harmonies on IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE, making it another favorite cut. BEFORE BELIEVING is also a favorite as is SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. The others, BLUEBIRD WINE, COAT OF MANY COLORS, QUEEN OF THE SILVER DOLLAR although enjoyable fit somewhere in the middle. TOO FAR GONE fits somewhere between the favorites and the middle. What strikes me most on this early album is the way her voice hasn't changed that much. Her voice is so pristine in this album and although I do note a grittiness in her voice not there previously, her voice is still strong and so distinctive. Ranking of this on my favorite Emmylou CDs? Probably #1. Probably because of BOULDER TO BIRMINGHAM and IF I CAN ONLY WIN YOUR LOVE but because it struck me so emotionally the first time I ever heard it. And also likely because the first two of three times I saw Emmylou in concert this was the only album she had out so these songs are indelibly etched in my brain. Anyway, this album is a MUST if you're a true Emmylou fan.
1975's Pieces of the Sky was Emmylou Harris' major label debut. It is also part of Rhino's recent reissue of her first five Reprise albums. Pieces of the Sky established a high standard that Harris maintained for years to come. Her blueprint included the assemblage of stellar musicians, among them the legendary guitarist James Burton who had earlier worked his magic on numerous recordings by Rick Nelson and Elvis Presley. Also, an extremely eclectic song selection, with new compositions such as "Bluebird Wine" (by her future Hot Band member Rodney Crowell) and Harris' own "Boulder To Birmingham," alongside covers of the Louvin Brother's "If I Could Only Win Your Love," Lennon & McCartney's "For No One" and Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors." "Too Far Gone" (# 13 country) and "If I Could Only Win Your Love" (# 4 country, # 58 pop) were this album's singles. For these remastered Rhino reissues, they have also included two bonus tracks on each cd. The additions to Piece Of The Sky are a pair of Dallas Frazier compositions, "Hank And Lefty" and "California Cottonfields" whose ultra-traditional sound fits in nicely with the rest of the original album.
Second album of Emmylou Harris, the first one being unavailable, the 1975 PIECES OF THE SKY is excellent. You will already find in it the name of a certain number of people Emmylou will work with in the years to come. For instance, Rodney Crowell, the author of " Bluebird Wine " and future composer of the most interesting albums of Emmylou Harris. Dolly Parton, whose " Coat of Many Colors " is one of the highlights of PIECES OF THE SKY and Linda Ronstadt who can be heard in the background vocals of " Queen of the Silver Dollar ". What stroke me the most while regularly hearing PIECES OF THE SKY during the last weeks is the professionalism of the production of the album. Every instrument has got its moment of glory ; Ricky Skaggs's fiddle, Glen D. Hardin and Bill Payne's pianos or James Burton's guitars can be appreciated during long moments because Emmylou knows that the atmosphere of a song is not only created by the talent of the singer. Billy Sheril's " Too far Gone " is the first hit of Emmylou and will appear in all the future anthologies dedicated to the artist but I personally prefer " Boulder to Birmingham " - a composition of Emmylou - or " Sleepless Nights " with its delicate and melancholic mood. I also liked the rendition of Lennon/Mc Cartney " For no One " . A curiosity. An excellent choice.
This is Emmylou Harris' debut solo album, released in 1975 titled PIECES OF THE SKY. "Bluebird Wine" starts off the album, its a nice bluegrass/traditional country tinged song that will get your toes tapping. "Too Far Gone" is a favorite of mine, her first hit record too. She sings with so much remorse and passion in this song especially. Her rendition of the Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love" is inspired, another highlight of the album. "Boulder to Birmingham" has become only one of her signature tunes, but it's one of her best as well. It is a tribute to Gram Parsons, who helped her get her career started. She also manages a cover of Merle Haggard's "Bottle Let Me Down". She does a wonderful version of Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors" here as well, and Shel Silverstein's "Queen of the Silver Dollar". Another impressive song is "For No One", penned by Lennon and McCartney. Overall its a strong debut album, definately essential for any Emmylou Harris collection.
Emmylou Harris released her first major-label album in 1975 and she's still making great music today. Although this is actually officially her second album (the first one, recorded for a small label, is unavailable), it's considered her debut. 'Pieces of the Sky' features ten great songs, almost all of them covers, with no two written by the same people. The only tune Harris co-wrote, "Boulder to Birmingham," has become her conert signature tune and is still a wonderful song. It's amazing how condfident Emmylou sounds singing such a wide variety of material ranging from Merle Haggard ("Bottle Let Me Down") to Dolly Parton ("Coat of Many Colors") to the Beatles ("For No One"). Harris somehow manages to make each of these covers her own. On every song she sounds like a seasoned veteran, not a first-timer. Emmylou Harris has recorded several great albums, but if you are a new listener, this is the place to start.
Among my countless CDs of varied musical genres, I consider Emmylou Harris' Pieces Of The Sky as one of my all-time favorites. This is the first of her albums that introduced me to this sweet-voiced singer and since then, I've been hooked! One can't help but be touched listening to Emmylou Harris' performance on this album. Her heart-rending reading of her own composition, the tender 'Boulder to Birhingham', Merle Haggard's honky tonkish 'Bottle Let Me Down', Dolly Parton's autobiographical 'Coat of Many Colors', and Paul McCartney's heartbreaking 'For No One' leave nothing to be desired. Her touching and heartfelt interpretation of such gems like 'Too Far Gone' and 'Sleepless Nights' are not bad either. And if you think Emmylou Harris is a one-dimensional singer who is limited to interpreting slow paced songs, then you've got a surprise coming! Listen to her uptempo and danceable interpretations of 'Queen Of The Silver Dollar' and 'If I Could Only Win Your Love' and you'll know what I mean. Dim down the lights, stretch out your legs on the sofa and program your CD player to play Emmylou Harris' soothing and slow numbers. I'm not sure if you'll ever have a sleepless night!
Emmylou Harris' exceptional album PIECES OF THE SKY, is one of the most impressive debuts in history. Through these marvelous ten tracks, we get a glimpse of Harris' immense talent. PIECES OF THE SKY was the most expensive Country record made at the time of its 1975 release. It serves as an example of Harris careful attention to albums in the singles-dominated Country market. Emmylou Harris was the artist who brought the album market to Country music; only she can make albums this good. Rodney Crowell's "Bluebird Wine" opens the album, it has a terrific Country sound. "Too Far Gone" was Harris' first single, which reached #73, her lowest charting ever. The charting has nothing to do with the song, remember at the time Harris was an unknown recording artist, she had a loyal following in Washington, but charts are national. "Too Far Gone" has gorgeous string arrangements, and Harris sensational vocal makes the song a perfect ballad. Harris first hit single, the Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love", became a #4 hit. Its a marvelous song. Harris pen is at its best on this shining "Boulder To Birmingham", the touching tribute the Gram Parsons. She works wonders on "Before Believing". "Bottle Let Me Down" is an awesome honky-tonk experience. "Sleepless Nights" is stunning, a passionate performance. Harris' duet with Parsons on this song would be released the following year on SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. Dolly Parton's "Coat Of Many Colors" is a touching artistic number. Harris brings even more remoteness and isolation to the Beatles' "For No One". Harris' vocals are magnifiscent. "Queen Of The Silver Dollar" is dynamite. One of the best possible conclusions to an album this spectacular. PIECES OF THE SKY offered material range, extraordinary vocal performances, and exceptional musicanship. This is one of the best debuts ever, by one of the most intelligent, creative, and talented artists in history.
Emmylou's first major label debut, and what a fantastic way to start what has become a great career! *Pieces of the Sky* is an excellent blend of down-home country, folk, and rock. For the most part, the album is pretty off-beat, containing several mello country folk ballads and a few honkytonkers that pick up the pace in between. My favorite track is the shattering "Berfore Believing", which features a heavenly acoustic guitar hook and a serpentine melody. Another favorite is Shell Silverstein's "Queen of the Silver Doller" and Harris' self-penned "Boulder To Birmingham". Harris also takes her cracks at more up-beat stuff with Merle Haggard's roudy barroom classic "The Bottle Let Me Down" and the bouncy strut of "If I Could Only Win Your Love". However, it's the wistful, pensive ballads where her vocal beauty gleams the brightest. Just take one listen to the romantic, sweeping sound of "Too Far Gone"! Emmylou Harris and her band keep these songs relatively simple and acoustic. Just a little electric guitar and snappy drums here and there to give the album a contemporary touch. Emmylou rarely writes her own material, but her pasionate vocal interpretations make the songs seem as if they're her own. Definitely worth the admission price! Thank You