(New West Records)
For those of us who grew up listening to AM Radio with its non-format multi-genre eclectic and sometimes wacky playlist, the music of the new Dallas band The Texas Gentlemen is not only a breath of fresh air but a solace for the overproduced poison of pop music garbage on the airways today. The band’s debut, ‘TX Jelly,’ released in September of 2017 is a celebration of those simpler times when people made music for music sake and not with the singular purpose of commerciality and techno trickery. The brainchild of Beau Bedford, chief engineer, and producer at Dallas’ Modern Electric Sound Recorders, he assembled The Texas Gentlemen as an all-purpose backing band for an eclectic array of singer-songwriters. In 2016, the Gentlemen were lured out of the studio to the Newport Folk Festival, where they were joined by iconic troubadour Kris Kristofferson, making his first Newport appearance in more than 45 years. The eleven original tracks were recorded in four days, start to finish, at Muscle Shoals’ renowned FAME Studios. The Gentlemen have drawn quick comparisons to The Band, My Morning in Jacket and other seminal studio bands The wrecking crew and of course The Swampers as the music touches on blues, soul, folk, country, rock, and gospel. But the song list plays out like forgotten B sides from 70’s icon’s like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Leon Russell as well as one hit wonders like Tim Stafford, CW McCall, and Mac Davis, who topped both the Pop and Country charts. The album opens with the fiercely funky mostly instrumental “Habbie Doobie,” an instantly infectious appetizer, then rips out the radio-ready jangle pop song “Pain.” The shift to full on 70’s folk rock for the very Traffic like “Bondurant Women,” and the ballad of the red-headed stranger “Dream Along.” The easy sway and glorious steel guitar of “Sway,” and the slow waltzing “My Way,” is pure West Texas sound. Smack dab in the middle is “Superstition,” a fabulously campy perversion of Burt Bacharach worthy of the Dr. Demento show. The honky-tonk lament “Pretty Flowers,” could have been a staple of the George Jones catalog. The 8-minute romp thru garage rock anthem “Shakin’ All Over,” complete with electric sitar is an exercise in guilty pleasure. A sweet harmony filled bit of updated folk wisdom “Trading Paint,” closes the album. TX Jelly surely sounds like The Texas Gentlemen had fun making this record.
Rick J Bowen