The breakout, and most well remembered, hit from Pure Prairie League “Amie” came from the 1972 album Bustin’ Out but wasn’t released as a single until 1975. It had gained such acclaim as an album cut, journalists called it “a classic of the country rock genre.” Later that year though, the band released its third album Two Lane Highway. While this album had a new lead singer, as rotating band members was somewhat common, it still had the cool laid-back country/pop/rock sound that made for a great beer joint soundtrack.
The title track “Two Lane Highway” kicks the record off with a guitar groove that would fit in well on a Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack with phenomenal harmonies all around. It’s no wonder it was starred for play at the Dixie Chicken. It’s easy to imagine a dude in a cowboy hat and a bearded hippie both sitting around a domino table with a cold Lone Star bobbing their heads to the music together.
“Kentucky Moonshine” has a much more mellow vibe fit for a Sunday Funday and also has a very fun chorus to sing a long with.
“I’m lonely… I sang the blues
But anyway Kentucky Moonshine I love you”
While these are the only starred tracks on Side 1, “Kansas City Southern” (not to be confused with a song of the same name from the Turnpike Troubadours) is another upbeat, toe-tapping standout.
While Side 2’s tracks and notations are concealed from wear and tear and a Dixie Chicken sticker to keep the record sleeve together, I can only imagine that a song like “Harvest” with its guitar licks was great for poppin’ tops and snacking on cheese hangdowns.
The great Emmylou Harris duets on “Just Can’t Believe It” and diverts to a much more hardcore country sound with prominent steel guitar and honky-tonk vibrato. The lyrics to the song are also much more country than other’s from the album, as it’s more of a classic country heart break song.
It’s so hard to say goodbye to one who loves you
When you know that you might never meet again
And I know we both will cry and miss each other
But I just can’t believe it anyway
“I’ll Change Your Flat Tire Merle” is another country-kicking tune and serves as a retort to Merle Haggard’s 1969 hit “Okie From Muskogee.” The song, originally done by Big Brother And The Holding Company in 1970, goes on to poke a little fun at Merle for “putting down them long-haired kids” and on a quick search, I can’t find anything if it was just playful banter or of there was legitimate beef. Either way, the song is fun with its Bakersfield sound.
The album ends with “Pickin’ To Beat The Devil” which features banjo, piano, and a good bluegrass feel.
Sonically, the album really is all over the place with guest appearances from the likes of Don Felder from the Eagles, Chet Atkins, Johnny Gimble on fiddle, and the aforementioned Emmylou Harris. It really does exemplify the music of the time where a lot of bands were a little bit of everything. A little rock with a splash of country, mixed with some pop sensibility.
With all of those sounds, it’s easy to see why this copy is so worn out from continuous play at the Dixie Chicken. It’s fun to listen to on Spotify, but sounds even better if you’re able to drop a needle on a vintage vinyl.