Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971-72)
- Fred Darling -- drums, percussion
- Brad Palmer -- vocals, bass, guitar
- Kent Sprague (aka Butch Dubarri) -- vocals, percussion
- Gary Stovall -- vocals, guitar
- Milt Holland
- Butch Dubarri (aka Kent Sprague) (solo efforts)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Boones Farm
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+
Comments: minor ring wear
Catalog ID: 5634
Here's another big label release that has left precious little biographical information behind it. Good luck finding out much about this short-lived early-1970s California-based quartet, let alone locating a decent review of their sole 1972 release.
During high school drummer Fred Darling and guitarist Gary Stovall played together in the band Churchill Downs. After school the pair relocated from Idaho to Southern California and began to enjoy some late 1960s local success on the L.A. club circuit when Darling got his induction notice, bringing the band to an end. Completing his two years of active duty in the Army, in 1971 Darling returned to L.A. where Stovall invited him to join a band he'd just put together. Featuring Darling, Stovall, bassist Brad Palmer, and singer Kent Sprague, while not exactly ground breaking (but still rare in rock circles), the quartet's integrated line up and country-rock moves attracted the attention of Columbia Records which promptly signed them to a contract.
Produced by Jim Messina (of Loggins and Messina fame), 1972's cleverly-titled "Boones Farm" was clearly intended to appeal to the growing country-rock audience (just check out the cover photos that made the quartet look like they had just finished a cattle round up). Largely written by Sprague and Stovall with the other two members contributing, tracks like the acoustic ballad 'She's So Good', 'The Me Nobody Knows', and 'If You Can't Be My Woman' had a distinctive country-rock edge, complete with acoustic arrangements and some nice Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-styled four part harmonies (check out 'Love has a Mind of Its Own' for a taste of the comparison). That said, similar to era-competitors like The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, or Poco their roots were far more diverse and the collection included a healthy dose of conventional rock. In fact, over half of the album was straight ahead rock. Powered by Sprague's deep, soulful voice, 'Good Old Feelin'', 'Play Children Play', 'Livin' Together', 'The Me Nobody Knows' and the blazing 'So Much Wrong' (with a killer Stovall guitar solo) were all first-rate, out-and-out rockers that would have sounded fine on FM radio. Elsewhere Columbia tapped the album for a couple of instantly obscure singles:
- 1972's 'If You Can't Be My Woman' b/w 'Start Today' (Columbia catalog number 4-45623)
- 1972's 'Good Old Feelin' b/w 'Start Today' (Columbia catalog number 4-45713)
Kind of makes you wonder how these talented guys fell through the cracks when so many far less talented outfits made it onto the charts ... Another one that sounds better the more I listen to it and you can still pick up on the cheap.
1.) Good Old Feelin' (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 3:00
2.) She's So Good (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall - Brad Palmer) - 3:20
3.) Play Children Play (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 4:40
4.) Love has a Mind of Its Own (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 3:56
5.) Livin' Together (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall - Brad Palmer) - 3:55
2.) The Me Nobody Knows (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 2:53
3.) You Say You Love Me More (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall - Brad Palmer - Fred Darling) - 3:29
4.) If You Can't Be My Woman (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 3:12
5.) So Much Wrong (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall - Brad Palmer) - 3:35
6.) Start Today (Kent Sprague - Gary Stovall) - 4:19
The album did nothing commercially and Columbia promptly dropped the band from the recording roster. Interestingly Sprague-Stovall tunes were subsequently covered by a number of outside groups including Bettye LaVette who took a crack at 'If I Can't Be Your Woman' and Three Dog Night who recorded a pair of their songs - 'Good Old Feeling' and 'Play Children Play'.
Darling kept at it for awhile, playing and touring in a series of local bands including Rockit and Wolf Gang (with guitarist Steve Plunkett). Burned out he called it quits in his mid-20s. He returned to music in 2005 and posted a small, but entertaining website at:
Palmer seems to have remained active in music working as a sessions player (Karla Bonoff, Bob Welch, etc.) and as a longstanding member of the band America's studio and touring group.
I believe Sprague now goes by the name Butch Dubarri and owns an L.A. based company - Lonesome Music Productions. He's also released some western-oriented material. I haven't heard any of it so I can't tell you anything 'bout them.
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