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Randy Krbechek's Metronews
Music Reviews

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January 14, 1998

Howl at the Moon

Vern GosdinVern Gosdin, Texas Live '83 (Silver Eagle 1997) - Country music usually isn't my bag, baby. Too many big hats and tired cliches.

But when the real stuff comes along, I can spot it. And Live '83 captures a terrific performance by The Voice, recorded just before his career took off.

Born in 1934, Vern and his brother, Rex, moved to Los Angeles in 1961, where they became influential members of the burgeoning West Coast country rock scene with such bands as Golden State Boys and Hillman (named after bassist and singer Chris Hillman, who broke up the band when he joined the Byrds). (Rex and Vern subsequently opened many concert dates for the Byrds.)

When fame eluded him, Gosdin grew disillusioned with the music business, and eventually moved back to Atlanta, where he opened a successful glass company. But the music was still in him.

In 1976, he started recording again, first with Elektra, and later with little-known labels such as Ovation and Compleat. So you can safely say that Gosdin had "paid his dues" before signing with Columbia Records in the 1980's, where he enjoyed seven consecutive Top 10 hits and two gold albums.

By the time of Live '83, Gosdin was ready for his big break. And, you can hear it in these ten tracks, which clock in at a refreshing 30 minutes. Gosdin is loose and friendly, and his delivery is silky smooth and polished. Thus, tracks like "Today My World Slipped Away" and "Don't Ever Leave Me" have a warm and timeless feeling, with Gosdin's likeable personality front and center.

Locked in the vaults for many years, Live '83 is a real treat. For a tasty sampling from the singer whom Tammy Wynette once called "the only other singer who could hold a candle to George Jones," give Live '83 a spin.

Danielle HowleDanielle Howle and the Tantrums, Do a Two Sable (Daemon Records 1997) - Readers may remember Danielle Howle as the lead singer of the long-forgotten Lay Quiet Awhile (1992). But the 28-year-old Howle (who hails from Columbia, South Carolina) remains a distinctive force; country/acoustic with an attitude.

Howle (who performs solo acoustic sets in addition to her work with the Tantrums) has drawn rave notices from such southern heavyweights as R.E.M., Steve Earle, Vic Chesnutt, and even Hootie & the Blowfish. I can't vouch for all of Do a Two Sable. But I love the leadoff single, "She Has a Past," a great alternative number about relationships.

Danielle Howle deserves to be heard, and "She Has a Past" deserves a shot at rock radio play lists.

-- Randy Krbechek

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