OK, here's Band Names for $100: Where did Pure Prairie League get its name? From the 1939 Errol Flynn movie "Dodge City," in which the women's temperance union was called you guessed it "Pure Prairie League."
I can hear your objections: "Why are you writing about them? They were a hot country/rock band back in the day, but they stopped making albums a long time ago." Not so fast, my friends. Pure Prairie League, including original member Craig Fuller (vocals) and longtime member Mike Reilly (bass), is reunited and sounding better than ever.
The band's new album, "All in Good Time," came out a few months back, and it is pure Pure Prairie League. In fact, more than anything it sounds like the group's very early albums like "Bustin' Out" (the one that gave us "Amie").
An erratic recording history is typical of the group. The band was signed to RCA in 1971 and produced its first two albums.
Then, in 1973, Craig got his draft notice and served as a conscientious objector at a hospital in Kentucky. With Craig out of the picture, the band was dropped by RCA.
College radio stations wouldn't let the band go, though, and Pure Prairie League's continuing popularity forced RCA to locate the band members and re-sign them in 1975. They were to go through a couple of other labels in the 1970s. While the suits just didn't "get" the band's sound, the fans did, sending singles like "Let Me Love You Tonight" soaring up the charts.
"All in Good Time," with 10 of the 12 songs masterfully co-written by Craig, has the trademark clean harmonies and pristine musicianship that has always marked Pure Prairie League. The opener, "Gettin' Over You," is an up-tempo, get-up-and-dance country tune, as is "Don't Go Confessing Your Love" and "That Changes Everything Again." The album also has some slower, more reflective tunes like "Meant to Be" and "I Sure Do Miss You Now."
"We set out to make a record that followed in the footsteps of our first two albums," Craig says. "Simple arrangements, lots of harmony, but all new songs." And when a band is as good as Pure Prairie League, you can bet a great album will come along all in good time.
QUIBBLES 'N BITS
Hanging Up His Tank Top Dept.: After more than 20 years of making hits and hitting the concert road, Ricky Van Shelton has announced that he and wife Bettye are heading back home to Virginia for some well-earned family time. In an e-mail to his fans, Ricky wrote: "I want to assure each of you that Bettye and I are in good health and still love music and everything it stands for. Music will always be a part of my life. But we have decided that at this time, we need to be close to our families." Ricky burned up the charts and the ladies' hearts in his white tank top and with hits like "Crime of Passion," "Life Turned Her That Way" and "I'll Leave This World Loving You."
As the Crowe Flies Dept.: There's a Kris Kristofferson tribute album scheduled for release on June 27 (five days after Kris turns 70!). As one would expect, some heavy hitters turned up to salute their buddy, including Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Gretchen Wilson. But one surprising track is turned in by none other than Australian actor Russell Crowe. Seems Kris and Russell, who is a singer himself, met when they did a PBS "Soundstage" show and have been fast friends ever since. Russell's song? "Darby's Castle," because it's one of the two Kristofferson songs he knows. (The other is "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," but Gretchen had already cut that one.)
Rough Cuts Quote of the Week: "Is this thing on?" Alabama lead singer Randy Owen, while tapping the microphone at the recent celebration of the new inductees at the Country Music Hall of Fame. You might remember that at Alabama's official induction during the Country Music Association Awards, the band member's speeches were cut off because the show was running too long. Also celebrated at the Hall of Fame were Glen Campbell and the late DeFord Bailey.
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