Brent Amaker and the Rodeo – Please Stand By

January 01, 1970

(Spark & Shine)


Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are a bunch of characters. Not
the kind of characters defined by eccentric personalities or the type that tend
to have a few too many brews and then light up the party in the process. Not
that they don’t fit that description, but mostly, to their credit, they’re
musicians who emphasize their image as much as their music, even to the point
where there’s no separating the guise from the substance. On this, their third
album, the Seattle-based band continue to pursue their outsized ambitions,
creating a sound that could have once sprung from the score of a classic
western movie, the kind that would find John Wayne battling the bad guys before riding off
into the sunset. It’s rodeo music all right, filled with loping rhythms and
deep-churned vocals that might make Johnny Cash blush with pride. Dressed to
the nines in their ten-gallon hats, dark suits and shades, they create a
striking visual, although careful observers might detect a certain amount of
tongue locked firmly in their collective cheek.


Consequently, Amaker and company sometimes run the risk of
veering into novelty territory, not the most credible terrain for a band eager
to be taken seriously. “Saddle Up” and “Hammer Hits the Nail” offer a good
natured giddy-up for the cowboy crowd, while “U.S.A.”
is, not surprisingly, the kind of patriotic cheerleading that always seems to
find a niche in Nashville.
Then there’s “Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk,” an excellent would-be rallying cry for
henpecked husbands everywhere. What a hoot!


For the most part though, the rest of the set sticks to the
steady galloping tempo that sets a brisker pace on an otherwise leisurely trail
ride. Consider it cowboy music for weekend trailblazers who fancy themselves
capable of roping a steer or leading a wagon team. And while it’s mostly of the
same ilk, there’s something mildly amusing and oddly compelling about these
gallivanting cowpokes. Chalk them up one big “Yee Haw.”


Talk Talk Talk Talk,” “Saddle Up” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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