Country Cool

Country music, with some surprising guest stars.

Veteran country star Earl Scrubb gets out his banjo, gathers together a band of his "friends" and ends up making an album which is good - but not quite great.

The album is genuine country music - none of those half-hearted attempts created by just throwing in a ukelele. No, sirree, this be the real stuff! And thankfully enough, the guest stars fit into the groove decently enough, instead of upsetting the balance. The album features a number of big names, but you won't know many of them unless you're a real country music fan. Nevertheless, it's really about the music, right?

The numbers are a little disappointing in that they're extremely similar in pace and tempo, even taking into account the nature of country music. Of these, "Country Comfort" - a duet with Elton John - belies expectations as John sounds totally out of groove. In contrast, "Fill Her Up" is a lovely number, thanks mainly to the awesome voice that is Sting. There are a number of decent surprises, too. Like "Ring of Fire", which has Billy Bob Thornton lending his vocal talents, and the touching "The Angels", with Melissa Etheridge. And the irreplaceable Don Henley turns "Passin Thru'" into a lovely piece with his gravelly voice.

This is a good album for country music fans - light, peppy, and with a few star turns thrown in for effect. Worth a shot.

This article was first published on 01 Nov 2001.