Richie Furay Delivers Fiery Career Retrospective On ‘ Deliverin’: 50th Anniversary Return to the Troubadour’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

An original member of Buffalo Springfield, Richie Furay was then and has been since unfortunately overshadowed by two other high-profile bandmates, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. And despite being co-founder of Poco (with Jim Messina, who went on to great success with Kenny Loggins), he also remains an undeservedly unsung figure in the contemporary hybrid of country music and rock and roll. Yet he remains proud of his work to this day, and deservedly so, here wholly validating his recognition of the half-century milestone of the latter band’s concert album Deliverin’.

Yet the two-CD and DVD release of the November 16, 2018 show recorded at the mythic Troubadour in Los Angeles, the culmination of a nationwide tour, is as much a career retrospective for Fury as anything else. Including solo material that comprises the only mention of his longstanding religious beliefs (and then only in passing) plus culls from his various group efforts—notably, absent any selections from the sadly ineffective collaboration that was The Souther Hillman Furay Band—there’s also an honest and deeply felt recapitulation of the Poco concert piece, rendered in its entirety, by Richie and his versatile sextet.

Given the fervency of the musicianship of the two-set performance, Still Deliverin’ doesn’t require the emotional punctuation of the appearance by one-time Poco bandmate and current Eagle on his own “Hear That Music” or “A Good Feelin’ to Know.” But the latter is nevertheless a fitting conclusion to what began on an equally telling note, with the aforementioned Canadian rock icon’s contribution to the final Springfield album of 1968, Last Time Around:  “On The Way Home” is the first but not the last tune here that, sung with such forthright honesty by Furay, rings loud and clear with an authentic autobiographical tone.

“Go And Say Goodbye” could just as easily apply to the tumultuous (and somewhat anti-climactic) breakup of the latter group as “Anyway Bye Bye” might well be interpreted as Furay’s self-referential commentary on his pained departure from Poco, a band that never received all the accolades it earned for its courageous fusion of musical styles. In that regard, the insertion of “A Child’s Claim to Fame,” from 1967’s Buffalo Springfield Again, echoes through the fifty-plus years since its original release to encompass not only the abbreviated and star-crossed Springfield reunion of 2012, but also some healthy hindsight on the part of its author.

The bandleader’s own bittersweet feelings translate into passionate personal readings echoed by the engagement of his band, including the frontman’s daughter Jesse Furay Lynch. All seven elaborate on the colorful eclectic mix of bluegrass, r&b and rock intrinsic to such tunes as “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” and “You Better Think Twice,”  while the alternately sweet and gritty mix–featuring banjo, dobro, pedal steel, and keyboards–retains the respective distinctions of the instruments via the recordings Russ Hogarth captured and mixed for the subsequent expertise applied by Lurssen Mastering.

On the instrumental “Grand Junction,” multi-instrumentalists Jack Jeckot and Scott Sellen,  along with pedal steel guitarist Dave Pearlman, exhibit as much agility as invention. As does, in its own way, this rhythm section of bassist Aaron Sellen and drummer Alan Lemke; the pair are as hard-hitting as fluid as they traverse the varying tempos and stylish segues between songs, many in quick successions of changes. Group singing during “A Man Like Me” also reminds of the truism about the human voice as the greatest of all musical instruments, the veracity of which may never be more apparent than when multiple harmonies blend.

No doubt gratified by the reaction he’s receiving from his audience, Furay’s own infectious, irrepressible demeanor finds a corollary in the upbeat stage presence of those on the tiny stage with him. There is some evidence that’s mirrored in the crowd’s response too, but that response is curiously muted volume-wise, in keeping with the paucity of camera shots trained on the attendees (who nonetheless express their loyalty in some quick snippets of video before, during and after the main content). Along with their camera crew, directors/editors Howard S. Berger and Susan Slahman are otherwise fluent with their transitions and never distract or detract from the music in motion: the pleasure and affection Richie Furay and company share as they play and sing together is a reflection of that joy permeating those present in the venue that night.

Few such retrospectives are so honest and courageous (on multiple fronts) as Still Deliverin’, attributes cultural observer Bob Lefstez encapsulates accurately during his essay within the handsome-designed, colorful twelve-page booklets in both double-CD and DVD packages. Or, for that matter, are many artists so healthily detached from past circumstance(s) to present the music so strictly on its own terms as well as inaccurate historical context.  Long the vulnerable stalwart in past settings of some adversity (occasionally to his own detriment), this man’s happy-go-lucky persona has never sounded more well-earned or worthy of admiration as on 50th Anniversary Return to the Troubadour.


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