Lee Hazlewood - Love And Other Crimes [LP]

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Originally released in 1968 on Reprise, Lee Hazlewood's Love and Other Crimes merges countrified balladry and lounge styling with light psychedelic pop touches. Perhaps relaxing after his mid-decade semi-stardom as Nancy Sinatra's foil, the devout Europhile decamped to Paris and assembled an ace backing band of fabled ''Wrecking Crew'' sessions players to record Love and Other Crimes. His stream-of-consciousness notes on the LP's back cover suggest Parisian days and nights of endless revelry and debauched excess in a land of unfamiliar languages and customs, but the music is high-class and impeccably performed - another contradictory Hazlewoodism to mark the man's unique career.

The lounge atmospherics of ''She's Funny That Way'' find Hazlewood's voice deep and resonant, piano runs skittering between each of his lines. At the last minute, the entire band ascends to a booming, ecstatic release, while Hazlewood vows to drown in his own tears. ''Rosacoke Street'' is a sleazy blues ballad about a host of restless characters, and ''She Comes Running'' pairs Hazlewood's voice with gusts of harpsichord. On ''Pour Man,'' his voice descends to seemingly impossible depth, while ''Morning Dew'' treats the standard to a rollicking up-tempo arrangement of swells and bursts. Hazlewood reinforced his own enigmatic mythology even more after Love and Other Crimes, treating all of Europe as his stomping grounds.

Love and Other Crimes places Hazlewood at the helm of an incredible ensemble, and synthesizes a bit of everything he lent to others as a producer. The result: one of the most diverse and consummate albums of his singularly eclectic and often confounding career.