The Cooper Brothers and Rodney DeCroo reviews   Leave a comment

This week I wanted to feature a few albums that got lost in the weeds. As it turned out, I only had room for two reviews, and I had to stretch my 500-word allowance to 150% to make that work; the third review is posted below: Danielle Doyle.

I advance the local happenings- including Wil and the sensational Leeroy Stagger at The Vat next weekend – and review the latest from The Cooper Brothers and Rodney DeCroo. The Cooper Brothers album came out several months ago and I bought it on impulse as a download; a few weeks back, Dick Cooper contacted me and then forwarded to me the hardcopy. A more than enjoyable album- my spouse and I listened to it all through on a drive to Edmonton last week- and the packaging is also well done. The DeCroo album really got lost- it was sent to me in mid-August but only made its way into my hands last week! Two fine albums for your cold weather enjoyment.

Roots music column, originally published November 19, 2010 in the Red Deer Advocate

The Cooper Brothers In From the Cold Self-released

Rock ‘n roll cowboys The Cooper Brothers- they of The Dream Never Dies- came back earlier this year with a powerful album of Canadian roots music replete with a stompin’ backbeat. In From the Cold is the southern Ontario group’s first album in almost 30 years.

Terry King, one of the voices of the band, passed away in 1998, but augmented by Jeff Rogers, Brian and Dick Cooper roar out of retirement with a very strong release produced by Colin Linden. The first five songs are standouts. Gunshy has the hook, Jukebox, with Delbert McClinton on harp, has the spirit (“I heard it on a jukebox, so its gotta be right!” goes the refrain), and ’62 Fairlane and Hard Luck Girl have the soul.

The Fats Kaplin fiddle touches to That’s What Makes Us Great are stellar. This ode to Canada wouldn’t be out of place beside Trooper’s Real Canadians and Mike Plume’s 8:30 Newfoundland.

Things get a little too soft mid-set before picking up again with the closers The Way She Shines and the memorable Little Blue Church; drop a five-string in that one and you are close to a bluegrass tune.

With just enough roots and country influences to keep it honest, In From the Cold is an enjoyable reintroduction to one of the most successful Canadian bands of the late 70s.

Rodney DeCroo Queen Mary Trash Northern Electric

Hats off to Vancouver’s Rodney DeCroo for firing off an impressive 24-track missive entitled Queen Mary Trash.

DeCroo recorded this double album set in less than a week, and the intense nature of such a pace is obvious. Songs are captured here at their most organic level. Unlike his previous Mockingbird Bible, nothing is polished or even adorned. Select tracks (River Boat and Loser and the Tennessee Girl) have a Neil Young & Crazy Horse vibe, complete with shredded riffs and feedback. Elsewhere, as in Out of this World, fragmented and nearly indecipherable lyrics make references to Bob Dylan inevitable.

DeCroo turns his words toward himself on the (hopefully) exaggerated self-evisceration You Ain’t No One, singing “You ain’t Steve Earle, you ain’t Neil Young, you ain’t Bob Dylan, you ain’t no one.”

Not everything is heavy. The second disc swirls to a start thanks to Jon Wood’s retro organ flourishes introducing Paris Spleen; I’m not sure what it is about, but it sounds wonderful. The beautifully titled Mist in the Valley is a sparse, atmospheric interlude of calm amidst volleys of rock ‘n roll bombast; Borderline similarly cleanses the palate.

The rhythm of aggression is much of DeCroo’s attraction, but when one focuses more closely on the words, nuggets of brilliance become obvious.

Queen Mary Trash isn’t an easy listen- much like the artist who created this sprawling opus, it is challenging, brutal, and at times terrifyingly poetic. There is much to digest across the nearly two hours of music, and DeCroo may have been wiser to have held back some of these tunes for his next project.

But for a writer this prolific and proficient, it is most likely we’ll have as equally impressive a set to consider in another 18 months.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee- Donald


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