Following the somewhat disappointing Burrito Deluxe, Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers parted ways, leaving the band – especially co-founder Chris Hillman – with a huge void to fill. Hillman needed not only a new songwriting partner, but also a strong singer to share the vocal duties. For its eponymous third album, the group decided on Rick Roberts, a singer/songwriter with a strong, clear tenor who had headed west after leaving college in South Carolina. It's apparent that Roberts owes more to the L.A. country and folk-rock that Hillman had been mining with the Byrds than to the traditional country influences that Parsons had brought to the original Burrito Brothers. And whereas Chris Hillman was great in a support role behind Parsons and during his days with the Byrds behind Roger McGuinn or Gene Clark, his role as co-leader with someone who lacks that sort of forceful personality only brings his weaknesses to the fore. On the previous two Burrito recordings, Hillman co-wrote much of the best material and helped Parsons to realize his vision of "cosmic American music." But here the sound is much closer to that which bandmate Bernie Leadon would go on to record a year later with the Eagles. And while tracks like Roberts' plaintive "Colorado," Gene Clark's "Tried So Hard," and the Hillman-Roberts collaboration "All Alone" are fine examples of the genre, there's little else on this album that truly lives up to the band's name. Much of what's lacking can be found in the performances, but even the most upbeat tunes lack any real oomph, while at times the singing can be less than compelling. The Flying Burrito Brothers is a solid if unspectacular country-rock record.
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