Chris Hillman - vocals, bass, mandolin; "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow - pedal steel guitar; Rick Roberts - vocals, guitar; Bernie Leadon - vocals, guitar, dobro; Michael Clarke - drums
Although rock 'n' roll musicians like Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds also flirted with country music, The Flying Burrito Brothers were really the first to dive in completely. Their influence cannot be underestimated. The body of work they left behind was a virtual blueprint for countless other groups as well as much of modern country music today.
By 1970, original members Gram Parsons and Chris Etheridge had departed The Flying Burrito Brothers. This substantial void was filled by singer/songwriter Rick Roberts and future Eagle Bernie Leadon. With these two able guitar players now on board, Chris Hillman switched back to playing bass, his primary instrument in The Byrds, and came into his own as a singer.
As a professional touring band, they were arguably better than ever, with fewer erratic performances (which were not uncommon during the Gram Parsons era) and an ever growing repertoire of strong material from which to choose. More emphasis was applied to vocal arrangements and with Bernie Leadon on board and Sneaky Pete adding new effects to his sizzling pedal steel, they could rock out better than ever.
This Fillmore East set, when The Flying Burrito Brothers were opening for Albert King, captures the second lineup at their peak and performing a particularly great selection of material, including much of the best Parsons era material. The classic first two albums are well represented here as are several pleasant surprises. The set also featured a brief acoustic section, where they perform "I Am A Pilgrim" and a smoking bluegrass workout on "Dixie Breakdown." "Pilgrim" isn't the only tune from The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album either, as they also perform "One Hundred Years From Now" earlier in the set. Other surprises include Sneaky Pete taking a rare lead vocal on a romp through "Willie And The Hand Jive." The classic Rolling Stones song, "Wild Horses," which Jagger and Richards specifically wrote for this band, is performed live in its original arrangement.
This lineup, too, would be short lived, but during this time The Flying Burrito Brothers were at the top of their game as a live band. With the sad recent passing of Sneaky Pete Kleinow, this recording stands as a testament to their vision and reminds us just how original and influential they were.