Commander Cody – Flying Dreams and Rock n Roll Again

Album Review | Retroworld | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

It’s difficult to think of the early Seventies Country Rock scene without at least one mention of the man known as Commander Cody (George Frayne), whose Lost Planet Airmen provided the perfect vehicle – in this case a truck or open top Cadillac or even an assortment of airplanes for that matter, judging by the LP sleeves – for some of the most notable good-time licks of the period. This probably had as much to do with guitarist Bill Kirchen, whose flamboyant style was exemplified mostly in the extended live versions of “Hot Rod Lincoln”, where the guitarist ‘does’ everyone from Link Wray to Hendrix. Although the band never quite matched the success of their debut 1971 LP Lost in the Ozone, with the possible exception of their eponymous release of 1975, Commander Cody has continued to work as a solo artist, releasing several albums over a 40 year career. The two albums re-issued here are from the late 1970s after the Commander had ditched the Lost Planet Airmen and had begun working under his now well established pseudonym. Although the running order of this re-release is presented as Flying Dreams first and then Rock ‘n Roll Again, they were in fact originally released in reverse order, both on Arista, which is slightly confusing. With a voice that often resembles that of Alice Cooper, albeit without the snakes, swords and shock stage shows, Commander Cody sings in an authoritative manner, occasionally with a touch of Dr John’s southern voodoo, notably on “Take the Fifth Amendment”. The two notable covers on Flying Dreams are still surprising today, The Band’s “Life is a Carnival” probably not so much as The Beatles’ White Album period “Cry Baby Cry”, which has Lennon’s acoustic guitar and George Martin’s harmonium surgically removed, to be replaced by sultry sax and gospel choir. Not Commander Cody’s best work, but notable mid-Seventies albums nonetheless.