Country/Bluegrass Review Vinyl

Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

Title: Loose Salute

Label: Music on Vinyl

Who would have thought that an ex-Monkee would end up being a space cowboy? More than that, who would have thought that his solo albums would break new ground in the field of country rock? Then again, even before he joined The Monkees, Michael Nesmith was the most talented and consistent song-writer of the bunch. This particular 1970 release roamed further afield as there is a bit more rock involved with a distinctly groovy, even reggae edge to others. Country is still prominent, of course. You’ll even find a countrified version of The Monkees song, Listen to the Band on here.

Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

Joining him – this was a band after all – was John London on bass, John Ware on drums, O.J “Red” Rhodes on pedal steel guitar plus Glen D. Hardin on piano.

Michael Nesmith took over the producer’s chair which allowed him to place a tighter grip of the album’s direction. It showed too, because the songs are quality, the band played well the variety keeps you guessing.

Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

As for mastering? Well, let’s back up a step and talk mechanics first. This edition is issued on clear vinyl which means that there’s no magnetically active carbon black (the stuff that makes vinyl black) featured on the disc. Carbon black does produce a noise all of its own (I’ve done plenty of tests to prove it too) so removing it, although I’m sure the clear vinyl was an aesthetic decision only, does improve the sound. Oh the irony, eh? 

Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

Next, the master is generally sympathetic to the time period. The tonal presentation retains a slight sepia glow so the upper mids have not been compressed to hell to sharpen them up. A relief. The soundstage is broad and expansive and there’s plenty of air around the instruments giving a relaxed and easy pace to the music. 

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