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Poco changes, the song remains the same (sort of) May 9, 2010

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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The times do change. Poco, my favorite band, turned a page recently with the departure of Paul Cotton and addition of his replacement, Michael Webb. Who would have thought Poco would pick up a bandmate with a My Space page? I haven’t heard the new line-up yet so I certainly can’t be critical of the addition of Webb. His My Space doesn’t give much indication that he would be a “fit” for Poco but I will allow the shows to speak for themselves.

After all, who would have picked Cotton to replace Jim Messina back in the day? It seemed like an odd choice to me at the time but with a newly re-tooled “Bad Weather” and “Railroad Days”, I was hooked. I’ve been a big Paul Cotton fan since then. The Illinois Speed Press version of “Bad Weather” holds nothing to the now-classic version on the albumĀ  “From The Inside”. Conversely, I really like the ISP version of “P.N.S. (When You Come Around)” better than Poco’s rendition on “Rose of Cimarron” in 1976. The first one was more electric and “gutsy” or cynical while the latter version was country-fied and sounded a little too sweet for the message being delivered.

I guess the digression is meant to say, I don’t think there’s a “Bad Weather” in Michael Webb, but then there was never a “You Better Think Twice” from Paul Cotton and Paul’s run with the band was nothing short of impressive. He added his unique songwriting and guitar playing skills to the mix. Webb, as a keyboardist, will add that position to the band the first time since Kim Bullard in the late 1970s and early 1980s (the “Cowboys & Englishmen” era). Rusty Young will have the various fretted instruments (sans bass) to himself for the first time. He will get some relief when Richie Furay or Jim Messina sit in from time to time.

Most of us don’t like change. When it comes to disposable income and retirement more on the mind than the beer we’ll drink with the next paycheck, we can be downright stingy. Poco doesn’t come to my neck of the woods very often so, if I choose to see them, I have to go where they are. That was more likely to happen 30 years ago than it is today. Thus, my spend is on the CDs or merchandise that can be delivered to me.How time changes things!

I first saw Poco live at the Mississippi River Festival (Edwardsville, IL) on May 20, 1972. I have been hooked ever since. I regret to say that the last time I saw them in concert was at a riverboat casino in Alton, IL, on May 7, 1997. Paul, Rusty, Jack Sundrud (bass) and Tim Smith (drums) were the in the line-up on that night. And I guess this being close to the date of the last time I saw them perform provoked this post.

Rusty Young may be the only original member on the tour nowadays, but more than ever it is the feeling he and the band’s various line-ups have given us that make it special to me. Will they make it to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame? Maybe, maybe not. But to paraphrase the Kramer character on Seinfeld: “In my mind, they are already there.”



1. Peter Hund - July 16, 2010

Have you heard the new “Live at Columbia Studios” CD from 1971? It’s from right after Paul spent a tour observing Jim on guitar, so he could take over. Fantastic!

vsap - July 16, 2010

Yes, Pete, I got it as a Father’s Day gift and it is an excellent representation of the group I saw on May 20, 1972…my first Poco concert. At that one, Rusty provided an unbelievable conclusion to a 25-minute version of “Nobody’s Fool/El Tonto de Nadie, Regresa” by playing the climax with a lawn chair! A big fan ever since!

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