Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Big Al Anderson and the Balls Pawn Shop Guitars 2007

Big Al Anderson made twenty years of great music with NRBQ, but by 1994, he left that band to move to Nashville and write music for other artists. He has been very successful as a songwriter, writing songs for country stars, and occasionally making solo records. This one, from 2007, is a very impressive display of his skills as songwriter, guitarist and singer. And he's backed by an outstanding supporting cast.

The songs are consistently good. From the opening country-blues-rock of Something In The Water, to the hard-rocking story of a teenage band that is the title track, to the soul of  heartbroken memories that is Just A Thought, the lyrics, melodies, and hook-filled choruses all add up to great songs. And there's funky stuff, too, in the stomping dance of Shake That Thing and the guitar-clavinet interplay of What Did I Do, which recals both NRBQ and Stevie Wonder simultaneously. The lyrics are mostly fun (Drinkin' On The Weekend, Airstream), but there's tender moments, too (Poor Me, World Came Tumblin' Down).

The music is a pop blend of rock 'n' roll, blues and country. The core backing band of Glenn Worf on bass, Chad Cromwell on drums (a crack rhythm section), and Reese Wynans tinklin' the ivories (Wynans deserves very special mention for his piano) is rock solid. Throw in a few guest guitarists, singers, and horns to flesh out the arrangements, and what else could you need? Add Al himself playing his always tasty guitar leads, and singing with his slightly nasal high tenor (it's got a country twang), and you don't need anything.

They play straight-ahead rock and roll with fervor and verve. They are clearly professionals, but they also sound like the best bar band you ever heard. These guys are having fun, and I'll bet you will, too.

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