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Blackie & The Rodeo Kings:
High Or Hurtin' - The Songs of Willie P. Bennett

[cover art]

Three Canadian artists with rather legitimate full-time careers of their own, thank you very much, have called time-out to take the legitimate tribute concept to another level. Guitarist-producer Colin Linden (also busy these days working in the studio with Bruce Cockburn), Junkhouse frontman Tom Wilson, and respected solo troubadour Stephen Fearing leap from the phone booth as collective alter-ego Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the name drawn from the title of a 1978 Bennett album. The trio alternates, trades, and otherwise combines lead vocals over 14 Willy P.-penned selections, backed by a flexible band that includes guest turns from Cockburn, The Band's Richard Bell, Prairie Oyster's Russell deCarle, and Colleen Peterson, with Mr. Bennett himself adding a ghostly, low-octave backing vocal to opener "Come On Train," a lead lick on the chorus of "White Line," and mandolin elsewhere. As a title, High Or Hurtin' sums up the range of Bennett's work rather nicely...equally comfortable and accurate in dissecting life's ecstasies or heartaches. The Blackie crew remains relatively faithful to the original arrangements, enhanced by the spark of honest and enthusiastic fandom (besides, it's not like the originals are readily obtainable). Numerous high points include the versatile vocal exchanges driving the aforementioned "White Line," the rollicking Band-like "Country Squall," delicately-etched ballad "Faces," the edgy blues of "Turnkey," the Cajun meets authentic trad-rodeo feel of "Blackie & The Rodeo King," and the bass-heavy itch of closer "Driftin' Snow." The disc sets the scene admirably for a new Willy P. Bennett studio project planned for release towards the end of the year.
-- Roch Parisien, RockNet, June 1996


(only members of the Band listed)
  • Richard Bell, piano/organ

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - High or Hurtin': The Songs of Willie P. Bennett - 1996 - True North/MCA Canada

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