Artist’s first major-label album a lost roots-rock classic; second mostly forgettable
Chris Darrow began as a member of Jimmy Page’s favorite psych-rock band, Kaleidoscope, but as the acid wore off he sought solace in the purity of the American folk tradition. In 1967, before it was trendy for rock ’n’ rollers to “go country,” Darrow joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and, later, in the mid ’70s, he released two rootsy solo albums on United Artists (both included in this two-for-one set). Save for a few tracks, the second album, Under My Own Disguise, lacks energy and bogs down in boring, flat production. Darrow’s self-titled 1973 UA debut, however, is a lost roots-rock classic. Though he’s often compared to Gram Parsons and other California-country artists, Darrow has far more in common with the Appalachian-rooted folk rock of The Band and little-known Capricorn Records group Cowboy. It’s an eclectic sound: Traditional fiddles and mandolins cut against rock beats; country seamlessly blends with reggae, chicken-fried blues rock, Native American influences, ragtime, British folk, Western swing and more, making for an endlessly interesting blend—when it’s brewed right.