Over the years, commercial country music has not been a particularly solid breeding ground for successful bands, Alabama and current stalwarts Rascal Flatts notwithstanding. For some reason or another, mainstream country has always been dominated by solo artists supported by highly capable but frequently mercenary session musicians. This is but one important reason why The Desert Rose Band represented such a refreshing change of pace during the latter part of the '80s. The other, more important reason is that the group was fronted by Chris Hillman, one of the founding members of legendary, pioneering '60s country-rock bands The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Nevertheless, the band also had plenty more going for it than mere pedigree, as accomplished masters of various stringed instruments Herb Pedersen and John Jorgenson helped fill out the Desert Rose lineup. The fruits of the partnership, displayed so well on the band's self-titled debut album, include a number of worthy tracks that spotlight Hillman's charming and spirited lead vocals but also his singular songwriting voice. "One Step Forward" manages to function as an instantly familiar mainstream country song and also something far more permanent. In addition to reaching a peak at No. 2 on the country charts in late 1987, the song proves that deft and even somewhat calculated songwriting can also be accompanied by fine musicianship and a serious, artistic mentality.
- Sample or download "One Step Forward" here.
- Compare prices on Desert Rose Band CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of MCA/Curb Records