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"...here was a capacity crowd euphorically singing along to songs drawn from a trio of albums that never went higher than Number 143 on the Billboard album chart."
-Andy Greene, Rolling Stone - read full review
"Nesmith's lithe voice, even at 75, remains limber enough to execute the yodels that punctuate a few of his songs, the fine-grit edge somehow embodying the wide-open spaces of the West much of his music channels."
-Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times - read full review
"Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmie Rodgers are to me something of a musical triumvirate. Somehow I always get back to them. They, like Dylan, Presley, Cash and The Beatles, had, and have, a clearly defined musical position -- A pure approach to what they have sung and written -- free from euphemisms and alive with their own emotions. -Michael Nesmith, Magnetic South liner notes, 1970
-Michael Nesmith, Magnetic South liner notes, 1970
"The devil has no access to the singing man."
Nez carefully considered the name for his new live project. Though the goal of these shows is to capture the First National Band, Nez felt uncomfortable labeling these shows using simply that original moniker; clarity required a modifier, hence: First National Band Redux.
When explaining his word choice, the synonym for redux he most often shares is reconstituted: to constitute again or anew; especially, to restore to a former condition by adding water. He calls it a spiritual reconstitution. The new arrangements contain the essential rudiments of the solo music Nez made post-Monkees between 1970 and 1978. The differences are noticeable, but they're still only water.
Nez defines the First National Band more broadly than purists who define it as Red Rhodes, John Ware, and John London. He instead considers the First National Band to encompass all of his recordings from 1970 to 1978. The Nashville recordings of 1968 were when the music was first played in this style, but it was not realized until it was played by the First National Band. This period of Nesmith's career has been labeled as country rock, but that classification misses the spirit of the work.
With the First National Band, Nez was trying to express the psychedelic experience as an example of the Infinite achieved through boundary dissolution. He heard these qualities in country music, especially in pedal steel guitar because of the instruments boundless nature. His is country music with elements of rock, but his music's psychedelic impetus does not allow it to sit comfortably next to The Eagles, Burrito Brothers, or other members of the Country Rock genre.
Using country elements to achieve boundary dissolution also presented an interesting political statement. One of Nez's goals for the First National Band was to question the political and social stereotype associated with country music that gave it a reputation as a low art form.
Similar to the high art he saw in Nudie suits, he heard classical music in the country music of his youth, played with fine instruments like pedal steel guitars, mandolins, and banjos. He wanted to play others what he was hearing. When Nez suggested a banjo solo on Continuing to the Countryside band, they scoffed. But the notions of a banjo solo are not what Nez had in mind -- and theyre definitely not what ended up on Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash. Everyone loved what was set down. By recording his interpretation of folktales (The Back Porch and a Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea) and classic country numbers, he set out to mine the cultural heritage of the south as something more meaningful.
For his first three albums' artwork, Nez used patriotic imagery to call attention to the hypocrisy of the American government. His Nudie suit's American flag theme was an attempt to reclaim patriotism from racist Rednecks. Sadly, the First National Band's intended message of the 1970s continues to be all too relevant today.
The most notable addition in the Redux arrangements is the backing vocals. Christian and Jonathan Nesmith designed the band's vocal arrangements with guidance from their father. Nez emphasized that rather than using Amy Spear and Circe Link to double his lead vocal, he wanted a call and response element to the backing vocals that refers to the arrangements of country songs of the 1950s. Some of their beautiful arrangements are designed to work in harmony with Pete's pedal steel playing to further highlight his instrument's presence. The vocal arrangements illuminate both country tradition and psychedelia.
When designing the Redux setlist, Nez chose songs to showcase the psychedelia of the First National Band. This emphasis on boundary dissolution allowed in a lot of songs that don't usually see the stage. So perhaps this reconstitution has a little more water than they indicate to add in the instructions.
Christopher Allis -- Drums
The Original Band
"[John] Ware wisely pointed out that if he and John [London] were my band, we could not only record but could tour in support of the records we made, something the Nashville first-call session guys seldom did for a new band. We would be a real band rather than a pure studio effort. ... [John] wondered who I might like to approach, and my first choice was Red Rhodes. I had no hope of him accepting, but he was my first choice. A pedal steel guitar player -- especially a magical-reality player like Red -- was critical-path for the music in my head."
-Michael Nesmith, Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff
The Original Recordings
First National Band Complete
Tantamount to Treason, Volume 1
And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'
Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash
The Prison: A Book with a Sound Track
From A Radio Engine To The Photon Wing
Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma
Nezs Nudie Suit