A Standout Country Debut Disc

Posted: September 20, 1987

The wildest, coolest, bossest, funniest, fiercest country-music album of the season is undoubtedly Bobby Lee Springfield's debut record, All Fired Up! (Epic * * * * ). A songwriter for acts as various as Eddy Arnold and the Oak Ridge Boys, Springfield's own music is far more hard-country than that of his clients. "Hank Drank," country music's umpteenth salute to Hank Williams Sr., is one of the few homages that might actually have been written by the master himself, and you've never heard a chain gang used as a romantic metaphor the way Springfield does on "Chain Gang." From "I Need a Girlfriend" to "Jesus, You've Been a Friend to Me" - from the sensuous to the spiritual - Springfield displays his range, along with some of the wittiest singing that a country boy has ever mustered. Listen to his album and you may get as fired up as he is.

DAVE ALVIN Romeo's Escape (Epic * * * * ): Alvin, a former member of the great Los Angeles bands the Blasters and X, here offers a series of songs that combine rock, country and rhythm-and-blues in an irresistible mixture, with lyrics that combine old-left political analysis with fresh, clear-eyed dramatic details. If all that sounds self-conscious and serious, allow me to allay your fears - filled with good humor and raucous passion, this an exceptionally strong example of popular music that eludes any particular label.

MOJO NIXON AND SKID ROPER Bo-Day-Shus!!! (Enigma * * * ): This would be a fair, two-star record were it not for the presence of the magnificent "Elvis Is Everywhere," the most profound novelty tune I've ever heard, which is to say that there are real ideas beneath its very funny jokes. The rest of the time, Nixon and Roper hand out their usual assortment of cornball charm and gleeful vulgarity to no great effect.

SHERRICK Sherrick (Warner Bros. * * ): This one-named singer possesses a big, burly croon reminiscent of Teddy Pendergrass, and shares that singer's weakness - poor material. Even strong, charming singing cannot save the series of macho-man-in-love scenarios he seems to favor all too much.

DAVID LYNN JONES Hard Times on Easy Street (Mercury * * ): Jones is a good country songwriter - he wrote Willie Nelson's peculiarly titled, memorably melodied "Living in the Promiseland" - but his singing is little more than inexpressive grumbling. He also attempts a country-rock synthesis on many of the songs here that fails to utilize the strengths of either genre.

RATINGS:

* * * * Excellent

* * * Good

* * Fair

* Poor

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