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Greetings from the UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:49 am
by Phil Fridge
Hello to all you Prairie Leaguers.....I bought my last PPL viynl album 30 years ago and to be honest never thought I would ever find myself revisting the band. The first 4 albums were great and I think that Larry Goshorn did a good job replacing Craig Fuller but after If the Shoe Fits things went downhill (along with country rock unfortunately).
3/4 years ago I was surfing the net checking out old favourite bands and to my delight discovered the Ozark Mountain Daredevils were still about , naturally I checked out PPL but at that time there was nothing much on them.
So to find out now about the reformed band was great and now 30 years later I've bought another album, 'All in Good Time' and its wonderful that there out doing it and sounding pretty good....its at times like these I wish I lived in the USA and could get to see them.( the UK public have never really embraced country rock.....I should know as I was in bands at the time it was all happening and the general population just dont get it!!!)
I also as a result of this rediscovery bought the 3/7/74 'songs of pure harmony' and whilst I know it wasn't done with the bands approval I think is a great document of how the band was at the time and it is a true live album. I understand health reasons prevent Billy Hinds and John David Call from playing, which is a real shame , Call is awesome!!
But whats the lowdown with George Ed ? I always dug his stuff, particuliarly Its All on Me , and Sisters Keeper....It would be great to know if hes got himself a deal or better still was to rejoin!!
Love the site and the musicians corner is briliant..no more hours spend with guitar, pen/paper and cassette player sussing out those chord changes.
The Pure Prairie League were an intregal part of a very wild period of my early 20's, to have them back in my mid 50's is a big bonus , maybe I'll start skinning up on their album covers again!!! Best Wishes.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 6:50 am
by LIDog
Now Phil Fridge is a great name. Welcome aboard!

In the various posts, you'll find a lot of stories, updates, etc..., including info on how George Ed and John Call are doing. As the site expands, I'm sure that they'll be adding more features like bios and such, too.

Be sure to check out the post "PPL Quote of the Day" below for some more info on John Call. Sounds like he's doing pretty well after all. As for George's current project, I don't think we've had an update in a while, but he's reported to be recording, and if I'm not mistaken, I believe that Craig and John Call helped out a little too. A lot of us here can't wait to hear George Ed's new stuff!

As for Billy, I know that he played with the Goshorn Brothers for a time after PPL, but retired after hurting his arm. That's aIl I've heard. I hope he's doing well. He's one of my all-time favorite drummers. You mentioned "Sister's Keeper", which is one of my favorite Billy drumming songs. His cymbol riding, inventiveness with the beats, tasty drum fills. I love the changing beats from the last verse through the end of the song, and that closing fill: "cannot deceive her..." ba-da-da-da-da- crash crash! "sister's keeper......" He was so cool. As a kid, I used to sit at the drums with the headphones on (despite the fact that I'm a guitarist!) and try to play along with "Takin' the Stage". There are so many interesting drum changes from song to song, and within each song. "Kansas City Southern", "Harvest", "Lucille Crawfield"... of course, "Two Lane Highway". That was so much fun.

I can certainly appreciate the sentiment about the changing music scene. I never did understand why country rock became this unloved child, just because other styles of music were becoming popular. I guess it's the business people. If you're not making enough money for them, they don't want you around! Meanwhile, people like us never stopped enjoying this music.

Still, it's very impressive how PPL was able to branch out in different directions throughout it all. I sure wouldn't have minded having Mike Reilly, Mike Connor and Billy Hinds in my band! Those guys could play anything. Too bad I was about 15 years old at the time! (and Vince Gill I wasn't!)

I just saw them at BB King's here in NY this weekend, and they were great. I hope you get a chance to see them sometime too. Although Mike Reilly isn't back yet (and we can't wait for that!), they played a great show, which I know that our site ringleader Tom will be revueing very soon. I had a chance to say some quick hellos to some of the guys after the show, and as has also been reported here by others, I found them to be really nice people. It just makes you enjoy being a fan even more.

Take care Phil. Again, welcome!

Dog

Greetings from the UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:56 am
by Phil Fridge
Hi Dog, thanks for the welcome.
I know what you mean about the drum patterns ,there quite complex. I thought the original drummer on the first album ( Jim Couglan ) was also into a similar style, what ever happened to him?
I've already discovered some interesting stuff off the site. I didn't know ,for example, that Craig had to leave the band because of the draft. He must have been devastated to find himself unable to be with the band when his song Amie was hitting the charts.Do you know whether there was any talk of him rejoining or had everyone moved on to a point where it just wasn't a possibility?
All these questions!! What we need is a definite biography on the band . Heres hoping.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 10:24 am
by Tom
Hi Phil Fridge,

Nice to see another UK prairiedog here.

The resurgence of PPL has taken many by surprise, the word is still spreading, seats are being filled at shows, the new CD selling very well and getting great reviews.

I see you have some questions. When you have time, continue to look around , there are so many tidbits of info spread throughout the forums.

Songs Of Pure Harmony certainly was put out by some lowlifes, but, let’s face it, if you have it, you listen to it, right ? It's basically a bootleg but that in itself makes it something unique ,it truly is a period in time when the band was organizing and redefining their sound. It's got some great bluegrass, country, country rock and quite a few hidden gems. Call , well, nothing like him. He shows how he used his steel as the backbone of the group musically during the transitional period. Incredibly inventive, he put the steel front and center. Unbelievable. I should start one of those CD trees for something like this so fans won't pay the rip off artists money and instead pass out free ones to each other.

Country rock was never given a large window of opportunity to start with, let's face it, it probably isn't the kind of music that parents had to buy for their 12-15 year old kids. Nevertheless, it did make it's mark. But as the 80's grew closer, more and more of the venues and radio stations that supported it either disappeared or changed formats. The bands played on, but around 75 and on many were suffering, finding it tough to get national tours or headline gigs. But that's what made PPL special, they actually continued to thrive right into the 80's, without even one year where they did not have a full tour, TV' shows etc. That's a remarkable feat. Historically speaking, not many can say that. But " after If The Shoe Fits things went downhill " ?? C'mon Phil ! PSHAW !! PSHAW !! That's some word ! I've been meaning to use it for quite some time. I never have, I recall it from a 3rd or 4th grade lesson, and I don't think I've seen anyone write it or say it since. But it feels good ! PSHAW ! I even looked it up to make sure I was using it in the right context. PSHAW ! Try it. Please. Thanks. You see what I mean ?

Everyone picks their poison of course. But I think on Dance, tunes like Lonesome Cowboys, Fade Away, San Antonio( wow, George Ed ! ), Tornado Warning to name a few surely are terrific country rockers. And after that was Live ! Takin' The Stage. That one back then and in a recent article in classic rock online was referred to as " the quintessential live lp." And rightfully so, it was outstanding. It's inexplicably unavailable on CD now, a real shame as some fans have schelled out (get it ? ) over 100 reillys for it on ebay. Another one for the CD tree list right ? That LP had 5 previously unreleased tunes on it that rocked. And of course, anything with Call on it is worth the price of admission by itself. But PPL had much more than that.

During the Gill years, PPL still thrived. ( By the way Phil, I'm not trying to convince you of anything, just give you some historical info re PPL and what things were like here around that time). Certainly no steel was significant. To put it on perspective, when PPL recorded Can't Hold Back, the pressure from RCA reached new heights- PPL was not allowed to have steel on the LP ! Pat Bolen, a fine musician, singer-songwriter played many instruments, including steel, and it was sidelined on the LP. The fact that PPL continued to thrive during this time, in this atmosphere, for me, was possibly Mike Reilly’s biggest accomplishment. Reilly, Connor and Hinds were very talented, and diverse musicians. Some may not realize it but the Kentucky trio studied music at prestigious schools on the university level before pursuing their music full time. They didn’t step off a porch with corn cob pipes. Reilly dealt with the situation and walked the high wire, somehow managing to keep execs happy , keep PPL in the national mainstream and still not sacrifice or completely ignore PPL’s past or abandon it’s strong fan base. Although you never got to see them Phil (and that’s a shame) in concert PPL was still putting on what fans wanted, all the classics being delivered in some legendary performances by Gill that many here still fondly remember. Fiddle, banjo, mandolin, incredible guitar work all the PPL trademarks were present. True, they had to put some tunes on LP’s that were rock or pop oriented, but even those worked for a new legion of fans.New fans came on board at this time, and backtracked to PPL’s prior music, another thing that kept PL’s music alive. But sometimes overlooked during the Gill years are tunes that surely were country rockers: White Line, Misery Train, Goin’ Away, Janny Lou, Too Many Heartaches In Paradise, I’ll Be Damned, Lifetime Of Nighttime , I’m Almost Ready, Still Right Here In My Heart etc. Several of these tunes are still played at shows today. Now I realize there is no steel in them but from my point of view, If Peaceful Easy Feeling, Desperado, Best Of My Love, Already Gone and several other tunes by The Eagles are considered country rock classics, then certainly the tunes I mentioned from the Gill years fit the genre. At any rate, Reilly’s musicianship was exceeded only by his business acumen. He made the tough decision to leave RCA after CHB, feeling for a band that had gold, platinum LP.s, was at the top of the country rock heap and was being cited as a major reason country rock went into the mainstream, there was little support, let alone artistic freedom. He left RCA, and, of course, their very next LP, Firin’ Up, was huge. Again, this is why I say Mike’s leadership and decision making during this time was remarkable. Once again, he not only saved PPL from possible extinction ( at least on a national level with a contract and tour) , but he had the band on every major music TV show, a top ten hit, a hot LP and a national touring schedule that saw many 70’s bands fighting for a spot as an opening act. PPL had very high visibility still and this was the early 80’s ! And fans filled the halls.

As for John Call, he’s doing well, never stopped playing. It was the touring which was killing his back and once he returned to a more normal lifestyle, he recovered. Very smart move on his part, He did tour with Craig in ’78 with the Fuller-Kaz band, they played some incredible tunes. The two boys from Waverly Ohio always were a dynamite combo. John appeared on a few things, among them Marshall Tucker’s Still Smokin’ in the early 90’s and more recently Yellowhand by JD Blackfoot. He was at Chillicothe last year and once again had fans and present band members raving. He played with the present lineup in a few shows about a month ago and will do so again later this month, as Fats Kaplin had a few prior bookings. I believe LIDog brought you up to snuff on George ( I’ve seen photos w/Craig and John during the recording) . Hopefully something will get released, we’d all love that. He too, had them going at the shows last year, Mike saying he was “ a wild manâ€

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:14 pm
by LIDog
Whew! Now that's a response!

As you see Phil, Tom's got the lowdown on all things PPL, although I assure you that Tom himself is not lowdown. Me, on the other hand, that's another story!

Thanks for this update Tom. Don't forget to include yourself among those who have kept PPL alive in a big big way. Personally, I think that you should be declared an honorary member of the band!

Yes, I know. PSHAW!!!!

All the Best,
Dog

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 5:45 pm
by Vice Admiral Swiss Navy
LIDog wrote:Thanks for this update Tom. Don't forget to include yourself among those who have kept PPL alive in a big big way. Personally, I think that you should be declared an honorary member of the band!

Yes, I know. PSHAW!!!!

All the Best,
Dog


Dog:

All I have to say is the guys ain't crazy and they know what Tommy does to help keep PPL alive, and the work that he does daily that helps to bring in new dogs as well as bringing some old dogs home.

If I don't say it enough Tom thank you for keeping all us prairiedogs linked!

Old Dog
workin_on_new_tricks@PPL

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 8:04 pm
by fanzine
Tom, no matter how ofter I read your replies to questions, I always learn something I didn't know before. Thanks.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:57 pm
by Phil Fridge
My apologies Tom for not thanking you for your informed reply on the history of PPL before, for some while I just couldn't log on but that problem now seems to be sorted and Im able to respond.
The thing that really strikes me is the difference between the USA and the UK in both language and the music scene in general...... 'Downhill' is an everyday expression here....as far as the bands post ' If the shoe fits' career here, by the end of the '76 country rock dropped of the radar and country music started a decline here which has never really reversed. Did you know for instance there are no country music stations and country music is represented on the airwaves only in 'magazine' type programmes for maybe a max. of 2 hours per week and I would reckon there is no where in England where anyone gets more than 4hrs of potential listening time . As for the content of these shows , Im sure someone somewhere has played a Pure Praire League song but in 34 years of being aware of the bands existence I think other than a couple of spins of Amy over a quarter of a century ago I've never heard them featured. I was aware of the fact they did keep going into the 80's but the Vince Gill years did not register here and by then I think the music scenes between our two countries had split to a degree that the common ground of the 60's and early 70's was gone and I dont think will ever return.
I do think its great the band are back together and 'All in good time ' is credible return but I'm not expecting to hear anyone to play it here.
I would love to see George Powell back in the band as his songs add a dimension to the groups sound that I personally feel was integral to why I liked the band in the first place. Anyway I'll keep on hoping . Many thanks again for the info and best reguards to all Prairie dogs wherever you may be!

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:31 am
by Tom
Hi Phil,

Great to hear from you again, a UK prairiedog. I hope things are going well with you.

Real sorry about your troubles logging on to the site, glad they cleared up.I don't know if it was a site problem or if it was your pc. Sometimes updates are run on the site and for brief periods it cannot be accessed.It also happened to me but I cleared it up on my end. If you have any future problems please drop a line so we are aware of it.

Very interesting stuff you wrote Phil, re: airplay , or more accurately , the lack of it. Pshaw on that ! I was aware that it was minimal, but not nearly to the extent you described. I had some idea though, about the efforts it took to get music by PPL. Several years before this site came up I came in touch with a great guy from Newcastle upon Tyne( I think that's what it's called! . If he's out there, hi Keith !!

Well, I knew from him how difficult it was to simply get the LP's. I was amazed at the lengths UK fans went to to get copies.As he decribed it ,he was the proud owner of all PPL Lp's but it took a great deal of time and effort to get them. Certainly the dedication of the UK fans in getting their hands on the music shows a true appreciation for PPL and country rock in general. It's a shame that it took such an effort, yet it's amazing to me that so many of you still caught on to it without the radio exposure.In some ways the UK fans developed an appreciation for this style of music that far too many right here in the industry itself were afraid to give a listen to , or if they did, weren't sure what to do with it.The easiest thing probably would have been for the major stations just to play it and let the fans take care of the rest, whether it be country , country rock or rock fans. But that probably is too easy and makes too much sense.In the end it's the fans who have the final say but sometimes the exposure is needed to get the music out there.

In NY right now there is no country music station, the last one disappeared quite some time ago.I can live with that. With satellite radio on the upswing and a few cable TV shows, you can find it if you want it.But it still seems to me that some Nashville cats still have their same old uptight stuffy attitude. After one of the major award shows which was held at Radio City Music Hall in NY, three country babes went on TV.Two said they were thrilled it was in NY. Many of country's biggest names were all over the local papers, all loving the whole scenario.Yet the one country lady (possibly one of the Mandrell's) naturally had to remark the show didn't belong in NY, she was very disappointed, said it should have stayed in Nashville since NY didn't deserve it, they "didn't even have a country station". Pshaw ! That's the narrow minded self serving attitude that I find so incredible. She completely overlooked the fact that NY'ers buy millions upon millions of country records a year, you couldn't come close to getting a ticket for the show, Radio City in NY gave the show tremendous media exposure , not to mention the fact that just about every big country act has played here. Maybe she wasn't one of them ! Besides if she felt so strongly about it, why go, why not stay in Nashville ? Because she wanted the exposure.

I'm still hopeful one of the major country stations here will get into PPL, especially if they put out another CD.All In Good Time received generous praise in Nashville, the musicians themselves are all highly regarded, but it's tough after a long break getting the word around especailly when you are dealing with what I consider an attitude that exists over what country music is and what it isn't, what belongs and what doesn't. Again, play it and let the fans decide.

Phil, I'm not sure if you know it, but satellite radio did play the new CD here. It generated a huge fan response ! It was one of the most requested CD's on XM12 radio for the three months they monitored it, actually among the top three, higher than many of today's biggest names. And that was due to a radio programmer, Jessie Scott, who does not have tunnel vision or a preconceived notion on what fans like, and fans who know good music when they hear it.


Phil, I'm glad you liked the PPL history bit, feel free to ask anything along those lines. We will usually find the answer for you.

All the best,
Tom