The Kentucky Headhunters

Flying Under the Radar

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Owing more to classic-period Southern rock in the manner of Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special than mainstream country music, the Kentucky Headhunters are still trying to shake their inaccurate reputation as longhaired Nashville goofballs they picked up during their brief fling with mainstream success in the late '80s and early '90s. (Hey, you cover "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and that's what's going to happen.) Flying Under the Radar is a "Greatest Non-Hits" compilation that seems to have been assembled with an interest in setting the record straight about who they are and what they do, as well as giving a second hearing to material from three albums that didn't do so well in the marketplace. Featuring seven tunes from 2000's Songs from the Grass String Ranch, two from 2003's Soul, three from 2005's Big Boss Man, and three non-album tracks, Flying Under the Radar features zero hits but plenty of Dixie-fried boogie, a good portion of crunchy lead guitar from Greg Martin, Fred Young's ceaseless stompdown backbeat, and frequent celebration of the stuff of Regular Guy life in the South (hard work, holding on to your dreams, using Daddy's gun when needed, things like that) on songs like "Country Life," "Everyday People," "Back to the Sun," and "Rock On." There are a few covers thrown in for good measure (Big Boss Man was an all-covers set), and their versions of "Chug-A-Lug" and "Take These Chains from My Heart" take the songs in a direction that honors the spirit of the originals while making them into something that truly belongs to the Headhunters. Flying Under the Radar isn't quite the definitive Kentucky Headhunters album, but it does offer a fine overview of what they've been up to in the 21st century, and folks who are curious about what the band has been up to since Pickin' on Nashville will get a thorough answer straight from the guys themselves.

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