Full Western Dress reviewed
Full Western Dress (Sire)What goes around comes around. Back in the Sixties, the Beatles lionized Buck Owens, and George Harrison's early guitar lines smacked of Carl Perkins' licks. Owens and other country artists, in turn, adopted ideas and themes from Sixties pop. Sixties pop, after all, was all about the hook, and the Derailers are chock full of hooks on their fourth full-length. Listen to Full Western Dress and hear echoes of Beatles '65, Rubber Soul, Johnny Rivers, the Grass Roots, the Monkees, and maybe even a little Gary Puckett. Full Western Dress finds the local honky-tonkers still assimilating the Bakersfield sound, but stylistically they branch out farther than ever. "Just to Spend the Night With You" and "Whatever Made You Change Your Mind" tap deeper into Sixties AM-radio veins than anything they've done previously, while "(I'm Gonna) Love, Love, Love You" is straightforward go-cat rockabilly. The atmospheric "Longing" wanders into Chris Isaak/Roy Orbison territory. As if that weren't enough, Buck himself sits in for one song and the band throws in a cover of the oldies-radio chestnut, "Then She Kissed Me." The amazing thing is that the band can stay focused on such a wild ride, but every song works and works beautifully. That's because there are two strong singers and fluid Telecaster specialists in the band who can pull it all off flawlessly. Producer Dave Alvin has achieved a rich-sounding mix while avoiding the overbearing, bombastic sound that prevails on country radio. Sharp harmonies, inventive playing, great songwriting; "Crossover country" doesn't necessarily have to mean "insipid."