Luxury Liner

Playboy, vol. 24, no. 5 - May, 1977

My, my, she sure can sing. Emmylou Harris has arrived and is one class act. Her third album, Luxury Liner (Warner Bros.), entered the country charts at number ten, and it was clear sailing from there on in. The record has a reliable crew (old friends Hank DeVito, Glen D. Hardin, Dolly Parton, Fayssoux Starling, Emory Gordy and producer Brian Ahern) and great charts by the Louvin Brothers (who gave Emmylou her first hit, If I Could Only Win Your Love). Harris has a voice that can take the simplest lyrics and make them mysterious. Her new version of Gram Parsons' She will break your heart. And when she has a truly challenging set of words, the effect is something else again. The poetry on the album is supplied by Chuck Berry (the cherry-red C'est La Vie) and Townes Van Zandt (the cryptic epic Pancho and Lefty). The latter may be about the famous Mexican bandit Villa and his right-hand man, Lefty. The relationship is not stated and, for that matter, we're not sure what happens. Pancho gets laid low in the desert, and his friend, ex-lover or assassin, Lefty ("He just did what he had to do"), moves to a cheap hotel in Cleveland. Now "All the federales say / Could of had him any day / Only let him slip away / Hang around / Out of kindness I suppose." Vulnerable. Vindictive. Eerie. You may not know what happened, but something did, and it was important. We wish there were more songs like Pancho and Lefty cheap true religion on this album, in the world, wherever.

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