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Big & Rich - Comin' To Your City
By: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

I like Big and Rich's music. I became a convert after hearing "Holy Water" and as soon as I heard Gretchen Wilson sing; well, I was on board as a devout defender (and admirer) of the Muzik Mafia. It really didn't take long to see past the flash and trash and recognize their incredible talent but it's been tough to stay loyal. Once you saw the "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" video for the fiftieth time and heard the lyrics one hundred times on radio in a single day; well, like anything that you are over exposed to, you become desensitized to. What initially shocked you morphs into amusing then it becomes less funny and, after a while, boring. Fortunately, there were twelve other songs on their debut album that demonstrated they were far more than just a "freak parade."

Having said that, I also feel compelled to say, somebody, please, remind Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich of that old saying, "less is more." The intro track to this album is so irritating that if I were not committed to reviewing the album, I would have just hit the eject button and been done with it. For one minute and eight seconds - which is about one minute to long for this nonsense - they are aggravating enough to give you a migraine with their round of "somebody needs to be unafraid to lead the freak parade." If you could set a nervous breakdown to music, this is probably what it would sound like. But I came to this album with faith that, beneath the clown make up, there were singers and songwriters with real depth and talent and, read on, they didn't disappoint me; although at times they did frustrate me.

Unfortunately, the title track of this album, "Comin' to Your City," was so over played on radio that it was already old by the time the album was released. The third track, "Soul Shaker," sounds so much like "Comin' to Your City" that if it weren't for the pause between when one song ends and the other begins, you would think it was just a very long song. But just as I was thinking that I needed a break from the monophonic lunacy, "Never Mind Me" began to play. This track, immediately, reminded me why I had been looking forward to reviewing this album. It isn't just the great vocals and excellent harmony; it's also the lyrics. With genius hooks like "don't rewind me then replay me," well, there is no doubt that as singers and songwriters, they excel. And when they partner up with Rodney Clawson to write, they just kick it up a notch to the next level of excellence.

Right after "Never Mind Me," comes "Caught up in the Moment" which, to me, sounds exactly like the first two tracks but stick around for "Leap of Faith." To a rocket I've been tied, I'm ready for the screaming ride / It's full of fuel and I just lit the fuse. Great lyrics on this track and some really classic guitar riffs. The excellence, in lyrics, music and singing, continues on "I Pray For You" before the insanity returns on THE INTRO to "Filthy Rich." However, if you forego the intro, you are in for some really great Dixie land jazz instrumentals and totally enjoyable, feel-good, vocal harmonies.

As I wrote that last sentence, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that one of the reasons I felt compelled to defend Big & Rich, when they were wrapped in so much controversy at the beginning of their popularity, was that I believed they would bring a whole new audience to country music. Their outrageous behavior and lyrics, calling themselves the Muzik Mafia ... I came to see the whole scenario as brilliant, creative genius; and that has proven to be true. So, although I might prefer that they forego the whacked out behavior on occasion, I acknowledge that it is one of the things that has contributed greatly to their success and, for some, it is a major part of their appeal.

There are several tracks that I liked on this album but one that really stood out for me was "8th of November (1965)," not surprisingly, written by Big and Rich. This is a magnificently written tribute to Niles Harris and the soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade ("Sky Soldiers" unit who served in Viet Nam from 1965 - 1971). Harris is a Viet Nam veteran of the 173rd and the friend who gave Big Kenny his outrageous top hat. This track has a moving, and historically enlightening, introduction by Kris Kristofferson and the song is a heart-rending reminder of the sacrifice our soldiers make.

This album does have a bonus track. On track fourteen Big and Rich are joined by Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." I was not surprised by their choice for a bonus track since much of their success can be attributed to them doing what you don't expect them to do and beneath the crazy costumes and beyond the outrageous behavior, in their saner moments, Big Kenny and John Rich are just like the rest of us, right? Well, maybe not, but in this case, I'm certain that's a good thing.

Buy The CD Now!

Comin' To Your City song list:

1. The Freak Parade
2. Comin' To Your City
3. Soul Shaker
4. Never Mind Me
5. Caught Up In The Moment
6. Leap Of Faith
7. I Pray For You
8. Filthy Rich
9. Jalapeno
10. 20 Margaritas
11. Blow My Mind
12. Slow Motion
13. 8th Of November
14. Our America* [Bonus Track]

Related Links:
www.BigandRich.com - Official Website
Horse Of A Different Color - CSO Album Review

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