Ex-Beau Brummels guitarist and vocalist Ron Elliott recorded this, his lone solo effort, during the waning months of 1969. In much the same way that he and Sal Valentino had done on their landmark release, Bradley's Barn, Elliott's pastoral compositions and folky country-rock execution are animated by a handful of equally brilliant West Coast session heavies -- including luminaries such as Chris Ethridge (bass), jazz legend Bud Shank (woodwinds), Leon Russell (brass arrangements), Ry Cooder (guitar), Lyle Ritz (bass), Paul Humphries (drums), and Dennis Dragon (drums). Although he does bang a tambourine during the first act of the side-long "Candlestick Maker Suite," what this album is really missing is the undeniable synergy that Valentino brought to the final incarnation of the Beau Brummels. The same free-flowin' rural charm can be heard throughout, which sounds like a synthesis of early America and Marshall Tucker Band sides. "Molly in the Middle"'s light midtempo crispness is enhanced by Elliot's fluid fretwork and relaxed melody. The jazzy "Lazy Day" features some lilting flute riffs from Shank weaving through the slightly offbeat acoustic bass of Ethridge. Unfortunately, Leon Russell's somewhat overbearing orchestration on "To the City, to the Sea" detracts from what would otherwise be one of the disc's focal points. The two-part title suite utilizes a more restrained string section that actually lends to the mood of the work -- reminiscent of the Buckinghams' magnum opus "Foreign Policy." The various movements within the two-part "Candlestick Maker" are likened to a musical novella -- recalling Michael Nesmith's Prison and Garden projects (sans the written text, of course). There are also hints at the styles of Tim Buckley and David Ackles worked into the rich imagery of his narrative. While certainly not every listener's mug of fennel, The Candlestick Maker is a thoroughly enjoyable work and recommended for fans of early-'70s West Coast singer/songwriters. In 2003 Collectors' Choice Music issued the title onto CD, making it once again available after nearly three decades out of print. AMG.
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