Bruce Barlow - bass, vocals; Bobby Black - steel guitar, vocals; Lance Dickerson - drums, vocals; Billy C. Farlow - harmonica, vocals; George Frayne - keyboards, vocals; Bill Kirchen - guitar, vocals; Andy Stein - violin, saxophone; John Tichy - guitar
Even though only five songs are included in this partial set from Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, it is a good cross section of the music they so effectively made between 1970 and 1975. Recorded for an early installment of the King Biscuit Flower Hour, this performance was captured at the Academy of Music in New York City, where the band had built a solid base of fans. The band was peaking both creatively and commercially, with a Top 40 hit on the charts, a remake of the 1958 rockabilly classic, "Hot Rod Lincoln." And to boot, they had become press darlings with their sassy blend of rockabilly, bluegrass swing, and jump blues.
Spearheaded by keyboardist George Frayne (AKA Commander Cody), the group had used humor and continual references to the joys of pot smoking as part of its live show. Eventually, it became the core of the band's marketing hook. After an instrumental fiddle tune, the band launches into a rousing take of "Rock That Boogie." They follow it with "Down and Out," "Too Much Fun," and finally, "In the Ozone," a testament to the benefits of drinking.
The group eventually fell on hard times after switching to a major label, Warner Brothers Records, in 1975. Warner Bros. had no idea how to market the pro-hippie, pot enthusiasts who played a sassy blend of country-swing, old time rock 'n' roll, and classic rockabilly material. The band splintered in 1976, after recording We've Got a Live One Here during their European tour that year.
When he returned to the road, the Commander enlisted a new group to replace the Lost Planet Airmen. Now dubbed the Commander Cody Band, the new lineup featured two key members from the Lost Planet Airmen, bassist Bruce Barlow and pedal steel guitarist Bobby Black. After recording a few albums on Arista, Frayne returned to the Lost Planet Airmen as a name for his back-up band, and released a series of albums on a number of independent labels. He continues to tour and record, but his latest offerings have been mostly live albums, on which he can still easily combine his musical ability and a ferocious sense of humor.
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