Rhinofy-Poco-The Forgotten Trail

And now “The Forgotten Trail” has been forgotten.

The initial Poco album is a veritable classic. Its only flaws were being a bit too country and lacking an obvious hit single. Then again, back then a hit single wasn’t necessary for FM radio play. But despite playing Crosby, Stills & Nash, country was pooh-poohed. The Burrito Brothers got no airplay. And yes, they spun “Uncle John’s Band,” but not “Mama Tried.”

Then the band fell apart.

Randy Meisner left for the Eagles.

Jim Messina became a record producer and ended up as one half of a much more successful group, Loggins & Messina.

And eventually, even Richie Furay departed, for the ill-fated Souther Hillman Furay Band, which promptly went gold with its debut, and imploded shortly thereafter.

But what was left of Poco continued on. Eventually changed labels. And suddenly started to have hits.

Hell, let’s start with those latter-day records, because they too have been forgotten.

Let’s start with “Keep On Tryin’,” from “Head Over Heels,” their debut for ABC Records, home of Joe Walsh and Steely Dan and via distribution, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout
All the times you told me
You’re so full of doubt
You just can’t let it be
But I know
If you keep on comin’ back for more
Then I keep on tryin’
Keep on tryin’

It’s all about trying.

But that’s not what makes this track so delicious, so great. It’s the definitive Timothy B. Schmit statement. It’s as if angels visited your stereo. Yes, listen on vinyl and you’ll truly feel like Timothy B. is channeling God.

Then there’s “Heart Of The Night.”

I actually saw the Illinois Speed Press at the Fillmore, before Paul Cotton broke up the group to join the ill-fated Poco.

Still, this is the man’s apotheosis.

In the heart of the night
In the cool southern rain
There’s a full moon in sight
Shinin’ down on the Ponchartrain


Flying into New Orleans that’s all I could think of. That’s the power of music, that’s the power of song. “Heart Of The Night” has got a languid, irresistible groove, you can listen to it ad infinitum (but you’ll still be playing “Keep On Tryin'” even longer!)

Which brings us to “I Can See Everything.” Originally appearing on “A Good Feelin’ To Know.”

At this point I’d given up. I’d bought four albums, and they kept getting worse.

But hearing the remix of “I Can See Everything” on “The Forgotten Trail” made me turn my head, I couldn’t stop playing it in its CD iteration.

It’s Timothy B.’s vocal. All breathy and ethereal…

If it seems to you that I am fading…

What if you put your heart and your soul into your work and you created a smash and it didn’t break through?

It was different from today. Where it’s almost impossible to get traction. Poco had a major label deal. They’d done the road work. Had a presence. Yet almost no one cared.

But nearly twenty years later I was enraptured. When I got the double album retrospective “The Forgotten Trail.” Sure, I liked hearing the songs I loved from the debut and “Hurry Up” from the follow-up. But what stunned me was the stuff I’d overlooked, that I didn’t own, that I’d listened to and discarded…the way it now infected me.

Which brings us to…”From The Inside.”

I’d bought this album. Hell, the band had played my college. I was gonna give it another go.

And forty years later, it’s stunning how good “From The Inside” is. It’s just that the band was in transition. Half Richie and half Paul Cotton with a bit of Timothy B. in between. I liked the old sound better, I liked the Jim Messina sensibility. Only when Richie left and the band absconded to ABC could they fully own that they were something different, could the public finally embrace them.

And I’m not sure this remix of the title track off “From The Inside” would light up the chart today, but it’s so satisfying! The changes, the vocals…these are professionals at work, not amateurs with GarageBand. When he sneaks in…

And I’m talking it over from the inside…


Then there’s the epic “Crazy Eyes” from the follow-up. It’s nearly ten minutes long. In an era when we accepted that stuff. And decades removed, taken for its music only, not as an attempt at a statement, not as an attempt to break through, “Crazy Eyes” resonates. Oh, listen to that banjo… Back when it was important to get the sound right, before everything was compressed for CD and listened to as an MP3 on earbuds…

And the more famous cuts are on the first of this two CD package. If you were a fan, you know them all. But I want to single out the above-mentioned “Hurry Up.” Once again, for the sound. It’s exuberant, you can’t be in a bad mood listening to it. It brightens up your life, dropping the needle on this opening cut of Poco’s second LP always made my college day.

If you know nothing about Poco, you’ll be blown away by the above listed cuts. But I’m not sure you’ll want to go a whole hell of a lot deeper.

But if you were ever a fan, you’ll find “The Forgotten Trail” a treasure trove.

It’s stunning listening to this music. How much time, effort and skill were expended in getting it right. When you missed back then, it wasn’t by much. Whereas everybody seems to be shooting with broken arrows today. There’s so much amateur crap, stuff that’s close to unlistenable or truly is. Whereas if you were in someone’s dorm room, at their house, and they dropped the needle on a Poco album, you’d never tell them to take it off.

And you wouldn’t bother to ask them what it was.

Because you knew.

Everybody knew Poco.

But they lacked that ubiquitous track.

But decades later, when hits have faded into the rearview mirror and all that’s left is the work, you’ll be stunned how much the music on “The Forgotten Trail” resonates.

Rhinofy-Poco-The Forgotten Trail

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