Classic debut by Country-rockers who play just for you
Originally from Tampa, Florida, The Outlaws took some time to build momentum. The band started out in 1967, although it wasn’t until 1975 that they released their self-titled debut. Along with The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws were part of the Southern Rock scene, and while never quite as popular as their peers, the band were no less accomplished when it came to their playing abilities, which were quite substantial to say the least.
Just like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws consisted of no less than three guitarists; Hughie Thomasson (guitar, vocals), Billy Jones (guitar, vocals), and Henry Paul (guitar, vocals). Monte Yoho and Frank O’Keefe contributed drums and bass respectively. But apart from all the guitar solos, what truly set The Outlaws apart was the band’s three, and sometimes four part harmonies, which at times were reminiscent of CSN and The Eagles.
Opening track “There Goes Another Love Song” was their first single, and remains a classic slice of guitar-oriented country-rock. On The Allman Brothers-esque “Song For You” and “Song In The Breeze” the band reveal their impressive instrumental chops, while ballad, “It Follows From Your Heart,” with its CSN-inspired vocals, proves that it wasn’t all about six-string histrionics.
The band boogie along nicely on “Cry No More” and “Keep Prayin’,” before getting into bluegrass mode with the instrumentally intricate “Waterhole.” “Stay With Me” (not the Faces song) is a harmless, well-played bit of country-rock, as is “The Knoxville Girl,” an interpretation/variation of an old Appalachian folk song about the murder of a young girl. Not that the listener would notice, since the tune is played at a rapid tempo, to the extent where it sounds as though their celebrating at a square dance.
Final number “Green Grass & High Tide” is The Outlaws very own “Free Bird” moment, where for almost ten minutes they pay tribute to some of their musical heroes, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. The guitar interplay throughout is superb, like a “Stairway To Heaven” for fans of country music.
The Outlaws may not be as well remembered today, but their early albums are worth tracking down by anyone wanting to dig a little deeper into what is often considered as the golden age of Southern Rock.