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Album Review: The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-71) by Lee Hazlewood
Excellent, Based on 3 Critics
AllMusic - 90 Based on rating 9/10
One could go off the rails trying to explain the odd genius of Lee Hazlewood. A born wanderer, a natural iconoclast, and a man who simply heard music his own way and was somehow able to sail the shark-infested waters of the music business on his own terms by out-sharking the sharks and doing what he pleased, Hazlewood defied easy definitions. He was a fascinating songwriter with a sort of desert Vegas cowboy vision of life, and he was a subtle, brilliant, and innovative producer in the studio, crafting recordings that had enough echo, space, and surprises that Phil Spector viewed him as a mentor.
Lee Hazlewood might just be proof of the fact that in popular music being very good at many things can only make it more difficult to gain recognition amongst the pop pantheon. It's the curse of the multi-talented, leaving behind a body of work that defies easy summary or pigeon holing. He was the man who put the twang in Duane Eddy's legendary guitar sound by using a grain tank as a primitive reverb pedal; just listen to Eddy's 'Rebel Rouser' to hear that distinctive tone and one which prevails in alternative music up to this day, now mainly in the guise of the adjective 'Lynchian'.
Lee Hazlewood is hard to categorize. With his eerie baritone and ear for trippily reverbed vocals, he mingled orchestrated pop and Laurel Canyon folk, a bit like Serge Gainsbourg singing country and western or Leonard Cohen gone bubblegum. He was never quite as overtly sexual as his French contemporary nor as overtly Biblical as his Canadian peer, but possessed an equally singular vision of pop music, which, 40 years after his heyday, makes his songs immediately distinctive and identifiable.