The Kindling Collection

The Kindling Collection

While still a member of the Byrds, Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram) and the late great Clarence White invented the B-Bender Telecaster, a guitar with an apparatus that slackens the B string to approximate the twangy bends of a pedal steel. The Kindling Collection, from 1973, features White bending and twanging shortly before he met his untimely death later that year. But the album also proves to be rich with Byrds-ian vestiges that recall 1969's Ballad of Easy Rider, an underrated album that allowed Parsons to spread his own musical wings as a songwriter and singer. "Monument" starts off with the then slick production found in early-‘70s country rock albums nicely contrasting the torn and frayed trappings of Appalachian bluegrass, most notably the unmistakable picking of Ralph Stanley. Parsons gives Little Feat's "Willin'" the warmth and intimacy of a front-porch jam, while "Sonic Bummer" ingeniously gets psychedelic without crazy effects or a sitar. "I Must Be a Tree" dares to tread soft-rock ground without sounding sappy as White's B-Bender provides some of that sweet cosmic Americana.

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