Lee Hazlewood: The LHI Years – Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-1971)
Lee Hazlewood is one of those artists I feel like I’ve always been aware of, but never really knew anything about. He’s referenced by all the cool people, yet I couldn’t name a single one of his songs. The first time that I heard of him was probably in reference to his collaborations with Nancy Sinatra. With The LHI Years Singles, Nudes and Backsides (1966-1971), I’ve finally gotten a massive dose of his solo material. This compilation covers the period when he was recording on his own label, LHI (Lee Hazelwood Industries). Hazelwood’s music has been described as “cowboy psychedelia” and while it’s not perfect, it begins to give you an idea of the type of sound he was creating. His twangy baritone and acoustic guitar picking certainly makes one think of country music. It’s so much more than that though. There’s heavy use of organs and violins (notice I didn’t say fiddle) which gives many of the songs an orchestral feel. The music feels original and yet you can hear many of the other songwriters of the era in these songs. On the more melancholy numbers, he’s an absolute ringer for Leonard Cohen except he would rather tell a story than intone a poem. Then the production and writing on the grander songs brings to mind Burt Bacharach. The funny thing is, he was living in Sweden during this period, away from his contemporaries. It’s hard to say what was influencing him, but he definitely had a unique take on country and folk music and this collection certainly highlights the strengths of this original mind.