Commander Cody

Live

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While no specific date or venue is given, the generically titled Live is a single-CD collection, released in 2003, featuring no less than 21 cuts from the "classic" lineup of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. The aggregate centers on Commander Cody aka George Frayne (piano and vocals), Billy C. Farlow (vocals, guitar, trumpet, and harmonica), Bill Kirchen (guitar and vocals), Bruce Barlow (bass, guitar, and vocals), John Tichy (guitar and vocals), Lance Dickerson (drums), Andy Stein (fiddle, sax, and trombone), and Stan Davis (pedal steel guitar). Granted, the set list is indeed copious. However, this package suffers from mediocre sound quality, as well as perpetually annoying and inappropriately abrupt fade-ins and (even worse) fade-outs. This often results in severely deficient performances that are undeniably jarring to listen to. That caveat duly noted, the material aptly represents the band's blend of traditional country with both Western swing and rural rock, falling somewhere between the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. If this disc typifies the combo's concert repertoire, they drew heavily from their cache of well-received covers ranging stylistically from Merle Travis' upbeat and toe-tappin' "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" to the mellow tear-in-my-beer balladry of Buck Owens' "Crying Time." Plus, a host of originals have become timeless in their own right. In fact, the platter commences with the down-home speed-freak anthem "I Took Three Bennies & My Semi Truck Won't Start." Among the Commander's other notable entries are "Lost in the Ozone," "Back to Tennessee," "What's the Matter Now," and the immortal "Seeds and Stems Again Blues." Enthusiastic responses are also given to the good-timin' "Sea Cruise," "Jailhouse Rock," the definitive "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," and the mile-a-minute pickin' and grinnin' of "Hot Rod Lincoln." Parties wishing to complete their collections may find Live right up their alley. For the average enthusiast, a much better entry is 1974's Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas.

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