Re-visiting a timeless live recording from Deep in the Heart of Texas
I am a huge fan of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. I always have been and always will be. They recorded some great albums back in the early 70’s. Lost in the Ozone, Country Casanova, and their self titled, 1975 release, Commander Cody and His Lost Planer Airmen, to name a few. They were all great, but none could touch Live, From Deep in the Heart of Texas.
One of the components that made this recording so good is where it was recorded, The Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. The Armadillo World Headquarters is still held in reverence by virtually everyone who actually experienced the energy the hall emanated during its reign of live performances from 1970, until its destruction (to make room for yet another unsightly high rise) in 1980.
However, the main factor one would have to figure into the equation to explain the success of this recording would be the crowd itself. They have been given an assist in making this such a special album. They couldn’t stop moving and cheering and were into every single note of every single song performed. This was before mosh pits, but I’m quite frankly, amazed no one thought of it during this particular event. The audience never had time to sit down and literally danced the entire night. They danced on the chairs, in the aisles, on the stage, everywhere. It was truly a mind-blowing experience those in attendance have never, and will never forget. One side note; the crowd was so into this concert, the noise the crowd emitted, is still dubbed into live recordings to this very day!
On this particular evening, the concert was a success from the beginning with the announcement, “Live, from deep in the heart of Texas, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen!” to the finish, with “Mean Woman Blues”. The band never let up, not even for a moment.
Billy C. Farlow’s vocals were powerful, Bill Kirchner on guitar blew everyone away, and Andy Stein on the fiddle and sax with help from John Tichy were absolutely incredible. You throw in Bobby Black on steel guitar and the old Commander himself on keyboards and vocals, all giving the best performances of their lives at the exact same moment, and this is what you get, the “perfect storm” of recorded concert events.
They assembled one of the best compilations of songs ever put together. Songs such as, “Seeds and Stems Again Blues”, “Git It, Diggy Liggy Lo”, “Riot in Cell Block #9”, and many more. The audience was mesmerized the entire time on this crisp November evening in 1973.
Jim Franklin, a popular artist from Austin, who was known for his drawings of armadillos, was the artist chosen to design the album cover for this recording. Back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s his drawings of armadillos had become the accepted symbol of the “hippie” counter culture of Texas. Franklin had drawn album covers for the 13th Floor Elevators, Freddie King, and Canned Heat. His drawing for Deep in the Heart of Texas was truly a most original piece and was a fine representation of the music found inside the album.
I’ve been listening to this record for thirty-five years now and my ears have never tired of hearing it. Timeless would be a great word to describe the recording. So timeless it is.