The late Lee Hazlewood’s sound might be best known for “These Boots Are Made For Walkin',” Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 go-go dancing hit, but in the shadow of that quirky, spectacularly produced classic lies a whole world of musical curios.
The mustachioed, twang-heavy singer/producer’s other notable work with Sinatra, the album of duets “Nancy & Lee,” featured the oddly metered “Some Velvet Morning”; the surreal, drawling “Sand”; the intense bombast of "Sundown, Sundown” and others, and has grown in stature since it was released 45 years ago to become a pop classic.
Around the time Hazlewood’s sound was going gold, he founded LHI Records, which from 1966 to 1971 issued dozens of singles or albums by the International Submarine Band (an early Gram Parsons project), Honey Ltd., the Kitchen Cinq, the Shacklefords, Virgil Warner and many other artists nearly lost to time.
Hazlewood has got a deep catalog, one that Light in the Attic Records has been celebrating through reissues of his solo work starting in the mid-'60s, when his smoky baritone was singing surreal cowboy songs as though recorded in an echoey canyon.
But the label's biggest Hazlewood project to date is to arrive on Nov. 26, when it releases “Lee Hazlewood Industries: There’s a Dream I’ve Been Saving 1966-1971” -- four CDs, a DVD and a 172-page hardcover book featuring some of the label’s most impressive work.
Definitely of its time, the work within the box offers a range of pop psychedelia. The first disc features solo Hazlewood work, much of it from his utterly strange record “Cowboy in Sweden," as well as duets with Suzi Jane Hokom. A number of tracks are highlighted by ace arrangements: the Billy Strange-crafted version of “Trouble Maker,” and a lush rendition of “What Do You Get When You Fall in Love,” featuring beguiling arrangements by Jack Nitzsche.
Another disc focuses on “The Cowboy and the Lady,” the concept album Hazlewood recorded with singer/actress Ann-Margret. Featuring the transfixing, should-be pop classic “You Turned My Head Around,” the album’s an unknown keeper, lovingly restored and augmented.
Other discs collect a bunch of LHI’s singles: The mystical yarn of “Puppetry” by Raul Danks and Jon Taylor, featuring words from the perspective of puppets coming to life; the jangly guitar-and-organ song “Something’s Happening” by Last Friday’s Fire; and Colleen Lanza’s risque cocktail pop gem “When We’re Talked About Tomorrow.”
The set is capped off with a DVD of the film “Cowboy in Sweden,” a made-for-Swedish-television project that, as described in illuminating notes by Jessica Hundley, “rambles and rants with hilarious abandon -- it is a film made with total and complete creative freedom.”
A deluxe box contains even more: three more DVDs that feature over 300 tracks -- all of LHI's 17 albums and 100-plus singles.
It’s a lot to consume, but the box set, which will be examined in more depth closer to its release date, serves as a boldfaced reintroduction to Hazlewood's enigmatic, utterly unique vision.
Watch the trailer below:
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