The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Burning the Ballroom Down

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On their fourth long-player, the Amazing Rhythm Aces continued the trend of presenting well-crafted pop songs leaning toward laid-back country and Southern rock. Burning the Ballroom Down was the final long-player from the "classic" incarnation of the band, featuring Barry Burton (dobro/guitar/mandolin/steel guitar/slide guitar/vocals), who departed shortly after this disc was recorded, Jeff Davis (bass/vocals), Billy Earheart (organ/keyboards), James Hooker (piano/keyboards/clavinet/vocals), Butch McDade (percussion/drums/vocals), and Russell Smith (guitar/vocals). The Aces' Memphis roots are evident throughout the album and are revealed in a variety of styles, ranging from the blue-eyed soul of the opening title track to the gospel-tinged waltz balladry on "Out of Control." The even more sacred "Spirit Walk" is particularly notable for aptly displaying Burton's multi-stringed mastery. Moving away from the harder edge of their previous long-player, Toucan Do It Too, the Aces retreat into more regional acoustic folk and bluegrass styles on the tongue-in-cheek "I Pity the Mother and the Father (When the Kids Move Away)" as well as the tropically inspired "Ashes of Love." Along the same line is Smith's hauntingly poignant and minor-chord masterpiece "Red to Blue (When Dreams Come True)." Other highlights include the slinky rocker "A Jackass Gets His Oats," which bears some striking resemblances to a typical Lynyrd Skynyrd deep-fried rocker. The easygoing "Della's Long Brown Hair" features a sweet pedal steel solo from Burton, who had exited the combo by the time the Aces hit the road in support of Burning the Ballroom Down. Enthusiasts should search out the live disc Between You & Us, which includes a show from this tour and features Burton's replacement, Duncan Cameron, in one of his earliest gigs with the band. In 2000, Collectors' Choice Music issued a two-fer that paired this album with its predecessor, Toucan Do It Too, on a single compact disc.

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