Songs You May Have Missed #231

desert

Desert Rose Band: “Love Reunited” (1989)

As I’ve mentioned previously, the thread of melodic pop that seemed to leave off where 80’s new wave and synth pop took over merely detoured into other formats, like 80’s country. No coincidence that artists who had a pop hit or two in the 70’s such as the Bellamy Brothers, Exile and Michael Johnson went on to even greater success in the 80’s as so-called “country” artists. And don’t forget Dan Seals who (in addition to being the younger brother of Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts) was half of 70’s soft rock giants England Dan & John Ford Coley. Melodic pop made with real instruments by people without strange haircuts found sanctuary on country radio after being banished from Top 40.

It’s interesting to wonder how huge the Little River Band could’ve been as “country” artists had they too positioned themselves as such when their pop career began to fizzle.

Country radio in the late 80’s bore little resemblance to its current incarnation, where every third song is a tribute to “cold beer on a Friday night/A pair of jeans that fit just right…” and similar banal clichés. 80’s country was where exciting new artists like Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, Alison Krauss and k.d. lang were breaking out–and breaking ground.

And some holdovers from pop yesteryear had roots still further back than the 70’s, like Chris Hillman’s Desert Rose Band. That’s former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris fronting a trio that also included versatile guitar ace John Jorgenson and superb harmonist Herb Pederson–and sounding younger than yesterday. (But of course, he was so much older then…)

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