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CD Review: Jon Rauhouse

Steel Guitar Heart Attack

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Label:Bloodshot

The Deal: Neko Case's pedal steel player stretches out over a gauntlet of genres.

The Good: To younger listeners, this may be a real trip. But for older listeners, it seems like a natural thing for a pedal steel player to do -- to pull from every genre his strings can reach. It's an odd mix of tunes, but then so are all his prior compilations. On Steel Guitar Heat Attack, the Neko Case sideman goes from Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" to Marty Robbins gunslinger ballad "Big Iron" with a stop in between for David Rose's "Holiday For Strings" before hoking it up with Lalo Schierin's 1967 ode to noir TV show of yesteryear, "Mannix." If you tire of his slippery fingers, you can tune in Case's smoky Ella Fitzgerald-ish lounge vocal on "East of the Sun (And West of the Moon.)" Tour mate Kelly Hogan, late of the Jody Grind and Rock A Teens, who goes from lounge to country as easily as Case, is the vocalist on "Big Iron." Rauhouse even contributes a few mellow vocals himself on a trio of tunes including his original, the laid-back, western-swing flavored "Drinkin' and Smokin.'"

The Bad: It's sad that this is being pushed as some far out thingy from the past: Look! Instrumentals! How quaint! It's solid work from a seasoned, touring pro working with an instrument few have mastered and still fewer play these days.

The Verdict: Ignore the flash and flutter merchandising. Just buy it for its own merits, then sit back and enjoy.

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