Ann-Margret & Lee Hazlewood — “Sam”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — May 16, 2022

451) Ann-Margret & Lee Hazlewood — “Sam”

This song is a bonus track on the CD reissue of the Lee Hazlewood/Ann-Margret ’69 album The Cowboy & the Lady. I can’t believe it was an outtake, because it would have been so totally out of place on that album. Rather than being countryish, the song essentially boils down to Ann-Margret singing sultrily, accompanied by an insistent, and actually quite excellent, repeating hard-rock guitar riff. After listening to Ann-Margret’s over-the-top vocals on the rest of the album, it is truly a shock to the system. In a good way!

Other than “Sam” being a Lee Hazlewood composition, I haven’t been able to find out much more about the song. If anyone has the box set There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966 – 1971, please let me know what the liner notes say!

In any event, Light in the Attic Records provides some background on The Cowboy & the Lady:

In 1969 Lee Hazlewood’s personal record label LHI Records was flush with major label cash and Lee wanted to make Ann-Margret his next big star. . . . The album is Hazlewood’s truest country album and a perfect example of the genre hopping he was afforded at LHI with unlimited creative freedom and money to burn. Recorded over a weekend in Nashville with the help of Charlie McCoy and some Nashville session musicians. . . .

A whirlwind year of lear jet promo tours, magazine photo shoots, television specials and cutting records for LHI wasn’t able to bring the success that Lee and Ann-Margret pushed for. A second LHI album . . . was planned but never recorded. Within a year . . . Lee would be living in Sweden full-time and Ann-Margret would focus on her acting career for the better part of a decade. . . . Though it didn’t stick, and it didn’t sell, Lee’s adventure with Ann-Margret is an extravagant tangent that has since grown a cult following . . . .

And Eugene Chadbourne adds:

Many listeners are surprised that this combination doesn’t click . . . . After all, brassy Ann Margret does have things in common with the Hazlewood breadwinner Nancy Sinatra . . . . The one missing ingredient is subtlety — this is what good old Nancy Sinatra brought to each and every one of the classic recording collaborations with Hazlewood . . . . Ann Margret is just over the top much too often, an approach that of course works well for her when an audience is also watching her dance or she is part of a farce . . . .

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