CD BR5-49 (CD 1321206),
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1. Even If It's Wrong
2. Cherokee Boogie
3. Honky Tonk Song
4. Lifetime to Prove
5. Little Ramona
6. Crazy Arms
7. I Ain't Never
8. Chains of This Town
9. Are You Gettin' Tired of Me
10. Hickory Wind
11. One Long Saturday Night
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 18818
Jozef Nuyens; Mike Janas
BR5-49: Gary Bennett (vocals, acoustic guitar); Chuck Mead (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars); Don Herron (steel guitar, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar); Smilin' Jay McDowell (acoustic bass); "Hawk" Shaw Wilson (background vocals, drums).
Additional personnel: Mike Janas (acoustic guitar, 6-string bass, percussion).
Recorded at The Castle Recording Studios, Franklin, Tennessee and Woodland Digital, Nashville, Tennessee.
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
"Cherokee Boogie" was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
Nasvhille's hottest signing of 1996 is a well-schooled (and tres cool) quintet that combines tradition with innovation to create a sound at once fresh and familiar. BR5-49 have obviously done their country homework, which is evident as much in their proficiency on steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin as in their covers of tunes by country legends Webb Pierce, Mel Tillis and Moon Mullican. Despite their honky-tonk roots, BR5-49 are an expansive country-rock unit who sound equally at home laying down a rockabilly beat on "Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts)" and showing off their collective vocal chops on Gram Parsons' "Hickory Wind."
Vocalists/guitarists Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett are no slouches when it comes to original songs either. Mead's "Chains Of This Town" is a harrowing tale of a man on death row, with a snappy Mexican lilt that belies the dark subject matter. On "Are You Gettin' Tired Of Me" Bennett proves he doesn't have to dip into his record collection to come up with a classic country tearjerker.
Personnel: Chuck Mead (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Gary Bennett (vocals, acoustic guitar); Hawk Shaw Wilson (vocals, drums); Don Herron (acoustic guitar, steel guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle); Mike Janas (acoustic guitar, 6-string bass, percussion); Smilin' Jay McDowell (upright bass).
Audio Mixer: John Kelton.
Recording information: Castle Recording Studios, Franklin, TN (1997); Woodland Digital Studios, Nashville, TN (1997).
Editor: Don Cobb.
BR5-49 was hardly the first retro-country act to emerge in the 1990s, but as one of the first trad-style C&W bands to gain a following (and a major label contract) in Nashville for nearly 20 years, they suggested that in the midst of Garth-mania there were still folks in Music City hungry for some down-home twang in the classic style, which made country music a phenomenon in the first place. BR5-49's self-titled debut album may lack a bit of the grit and high spirits of their live show (either as witnessed in person or as preserved on the Live at Robert's EP), but it does a great job of capturing this band's spunky attitude and superb chops, and makes clear they can write original songs just as well as they can give new life to classics by Moon Mullican and Ray Price. While a few tunes like "Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts)" play to the slightly kitschy side of the group's collective personality, "Even if It's Wrong," "One Long Saturday Night," and "Lifetime to Prove" testify that BR5-49 truly respect classic country music, and write songs as smart and heartfelt as the classics they cover. And boy, can they play -- Don Herron shines on every instrument he touches (including fiddle, steel guitar, and mandolin), Shaw "Hawk Shaw" Wilson and Smilin' Jay McDowell are a superbly uncluttered rhythm section, and Gary Bennett and Chuck Mead can pick just as well as they harmonize (and that's mighty fine indeed). Adding a here-and-now energy and drive to classic styles of the past, BR5-49 proves you can not only have it both ways, but have a great time to boot. ~ Mark Deming
Spin (11/96, pp.125-126) - 7 (out of 10) - "...in the great country tradition that spans Bob Wills and Asleep at the Wheel, [they] hear songs as reasons to jam, to say `Hey, there's a lot of music to this country music'....they're great players....[they make] purism seem pleasurable, not stiff-necked..."
Entertainment Weekly (9/27/96, p.81) - "A nice little revivalist honky-tonk/rockabilly band....they're a breath of fresh air in Music City's stultifying major-label atmosphere, a portent of possible change to come."
- Rating: B+
Q (10/96, p.156) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Effortlessly blending '50s jukebox classics...with their own originals,...BR5-49 are so knowingly and lovingly retro that they contrive to sound wonderfully fresh throughout..."
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