Brewer & Shipley: Tarkio (1970)

An early example of rootsy Americana that seems to be overlooked these days, Brewer & Shipley offered a nice blend of country, rock, and folk, with some lovely harmonies and acoustic guitar work, that holds up well alongside better-known albums like the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo and the Dead's Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. (Indeed, Jerry Garcia lends his pedal steel to one track here, and long-time members of the Jerry Garcia Band appear as well.)

Tarkio (originally called Tarkio Road, but for some reason later shortened) is the duo's third album, and probably the most visible given the presence of opening track "One Toke Over The Line." It's a wonderfully durable country-rock song, granted immortality by its appearance in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas ("One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats..."). "Toke" is the obvious stand-out, but the whole album presents a nice, laid-back 70s stoner vibe. A few, like "Song From Platte River" (or the gospel-tinged "The Light") are a little too straight country for my taste, but the gorgeous harmonies elevate tunes like "Ruby On The Morning" and "Can't Go Home" and "Seems Like A Long Time." And they do a nice job of capturing the post-psychedelic West Coast vibe of the Dead (and particularly Moby Grape) on the upbeat rockers "Fifty States of Freedom" and "Tarkio Road" and the twangy, Steve Miller Band-esque groove of "Don't Want To Die In Georgia."

Here they are lip-syncing "One Toke":
...and here's an audio rip of "Ruby":
Here's a live "Fifty States" from 1998 (noisy audience but they quiet down):
...and a live take on the title track at a 2011 reunion show:


  1. It's Mr. Moe. My mom had this album. We used to sing along to "One Toke Over the Line," though I had no idea what the song was about at the time. And frankly, I'm still not quite sure what it's about !


Post a Comment