Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., April 11, 2003
Rusty Wier"Under My Hat" (Harlequin)
It's not altogether correct to tag Austin's Rusty Wier as a "one-hit wonder," though nothing he's written since matches 1975's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance" for longevity or appeal. "Under My Hat" collects 14 tracks from Wier's quartet of mid-Seventies Cosmic Cowboy-era albums: Fly Away, Don't It Make You Wanna Dance, Black Hat Saloon, and Stoned, Slow, Rugged. What's notable is not how well the songs hold up; it's more that Wier is possessed of strikingly soulful vocals enhanced by great personal charisma and stage presence. Of those qualities, only vocals usually translate to disc; with Wier, all three are evident. Equally notable is how the songs are only marginally country, even by mid-Seventies standards, with only "Just One More Time" and "The Devil Lives in Dallas" approaching the genre head-on. Country flavor is more like it, as Wier's repertoire overflows with ballads ("Fly Away," "Texas Morning," "Black Hat Saloon"), rockers ("Trouble," "Aqua Dulce," "Sally Mae"), sing-alongs ("I Heard That You've Been Laying My Old Lady"), and the anthemic "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance." What "Under My Hat" lacks isn't music, but information. The musicianship is uncredited and half the fun of going blind reading CD booklets is discovering names. The cosmic glitter tarnished years ago, but Wier's sheer tenacity and love of performing keeps him going. Between contemporary recordings like last year's I Stood Up and gems from the past like the ones on "Under My Hat," Rusty Wier remains one of the treasures of Texas.