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Emmylou Harris - Elite Hotel (Expanded & Remastered)
CD Review by Jim Moulton

Emmylou has rightfully been called the Queen of Country music. This Rhino release is exquisite as Rhino always does it best. Originally released as her second solo LP in 12/75 with twelve songs, it opened at the #1 spot on the Country Charts in Billboard. Also, six singles came from the LP. Two singles were #1 hits and another one reached #3. Another single was #65 on the pop charts. Two other songs are added on this disc which were not on the original. 

Emmylou Harris was discovered by the Flying Burrito Brothers singing alone in a small coffeehouse in D.C. She ended up singing backup for Gram Parsons on his only two solo LPs, one released posthumously. 

This record has a stone cold country sound. It is the second time the legendary hot band played on a record with her. The band leader was keyboard player Glen Hardin (Elvis Presley), guitarist James Burton (Presley), guitarist and vocalist Rodney Crowell, pedal steel player Hank Devito, bassist Emory Gordy Jr. (later Nashville Producer and husband of Patty Loveless) and drummers Ron Tutt (Presley) and John Ware. Husband Brian Ahern is Producer and he recorded the majority of the LP in a lead shielded trailer-studio parked outside of their LA mansion. Plenty of guest musicians and singers, three live cuts from the Roxy Theatre. 

The sound is warm with the bass and drums in the background, not out front like today's country rock/pop CDs. There is a real sense of unity in this special group of musicians backing up Emmylou's angelic voice. 

"Til I gain Control Again" - a gem of a ballad featuring Rodney Crowell that is a slow beauty with beautiful backup vocals and incredible steel by Hank Devito.

"Sin City" - my personal favorite, A Gram Parsons song with Rodney Crowell singing with her in a gut-wrencher of a country ballad, great lyrics and hooks. Emmylou somehow sings effortlessly, yet still packing a song with emotion.

"One Of These Days" - a great mid-tempo song with some great banjo and mandolin. Just a great mellow song with some great hooks and a chorus that you do not forget. 

James Burton is a great lead guitarist that plays tasteful, melodic solos. I love the spaciousness of this recording, even with some strings, it sounds so natural and not over compressed and db-ed like todays hot CDs. There is not a bad song on this eclectic disc, including a Beatle's tune "Here, There and Everywhere", which is a slow great ballad. Other great songs are "Wheels", "Jambalaya", "Sweet Dreams" and "Amarillo".

The live section is tasteful, put together three songs in a row. The hot band takes it up a notch and you hear some of their influence from playing with the King Of Rock. Great Booklet, loaded with pics and info, lyrics. Rhino has re-released five other Harris LPs.


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