6 String Drag

High Hat
E-Squared 1005-2

Kenny Roby (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, 6 string bass) Rob Keller (bass guitar, bass fiddle, tenor vocals) Scott Miller (electric guitars, mandolin,organ, archtop guitar, harmonium, backing vocal) Ray Duffey (drums, percussion, backing vocal)

With: Steve Earle (acoustic guitar on track 11) Ray Kennedy & S. Earle (backards n fords feedback guitars on track 8) Jim Hoke (baritone, tenor saxes on tracks 3,5; clarinet, bass harmonica on track 12) Barry Green (trombone on track 3 The Accidentally On Purpose Choir (pub vocal on track 12)

Bottle of Blues / Elaine / Gasoline Maybelline / Guilty / Red / Driven Man / From Me To Clayton / Cold Steel Brace / 85 on 85 / Ghost / I Can't Remember / Over & Over / Top of The Mountain / Keep On Pushin'

I got this CD by surprise from the fine folks at E-Squared, Steve Earle's record company. I had heard mention of 6 String Drag on the Postcard2 internet mailing list but had never had the opportunity to see them live or hear them on the radio, being stuck in the Twang Free part of Hell the majority of the time like I am. What a welcome surprise it was to open up the mailbox and find something other than a past-due bill.

So I rushed in the house and stuck it in my old wind-up Victrola CD player. On first listen I couldn't help but think, "Man these guys sound a lot like Elvis Costello." As I continued listening, I had to amend that to "Man these guys sound a lot like Elvis Costello if Elvis Costello had been raised on Carolina barbecue, racing pickups down gravel roads, all-night television evangelists, and greasy truck-stop breakfasts." This is not to say that 6 String Drag is just another Redneck Rock band jumping on the Alt-Country bandwagon. It's twangin'. But it's more on the rock side of twangin'. The songwriting has the sensibility and feel of country, But 6 String Drag is wired for sound and cooking with gas.

Let me tell you brothers and sisters, this is a mighty fun record. It will put a smile on your face and a wiggle in your butt. Mighty fun indeed. The sheer pleasure that a Fender Twin Reverb gives when you twist the knobs to 11. And Kenny Roby and Rob Keller have that harmony that I like so well. Tight, but not too tight, they keep it just rough enough to be interesting.

High Hat was produced by the Twangtrust of Ray Kennedy and Steve Earle, and they did a good job. Every track is a keeper. From the Elvis Costellowy "Driven Man" to the 45-second punk frenzy of "85 on 85," this disc twangs, it rocks, it crawls on it's belly like a reptile. "I Can't Remember" has an old-time acoustic country feel. "Over and Over" has a kind of dixieland blues groove happening. But "Top of The Mountain" is the best cut. A rockabilly, faith healing, truckdriving, snake handling, tent preaching, out-of-control gospel tune that is guaran-damn-teed to have you stomping your feet, talking in tongues, and writing out bad checks to Mr. Jesus. The CD closes with "Keep on Pushin" a tune about a fallen preacher and the fact that you can't give up and that Angels and the Lord are still watching out for you.

This disc is already on my Top Ten list and spends a lot of time in my CD player. If the CD is this good, then the live show must be out of this world. Mountain harmonies, electric guitars, and good songwriting. It makes for a mighty fine CD, mighty fine indeed. Where are these guys playing? I think I'm going to call in dead for work tomorrow. It's about time for a road trip.

--Jeff Wall

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