The Cactus Brothers

The Cactus Brothers

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Originally formed as the twangier alter ego of popular Nashville cowpunks Walk the West, the Cactus Brothers soon took on an identity of their own, mixing weepy, pedal-steel punctuated honky tonk country with Walk the West's edgier roots rock sound. By the time of this self-titled debut for Jimmy Bowen's short-lived Liberty Records, the band's original four members had grown into a powerful seven-piece band that built a loyal following by constant touring. With producers Allen Reynolds and Mark Miller at the helm, this solid collection of songs did a fair job of capturing the band's live dynamic on tape. The disc mixes traditional country gems like Tennessee Ernie Ford's classic "Sixteen Tons" and the Everly Brothers' "The Price of Love" with originals penned by vocalist Paul Kirby such as the precious "Sweet Old Fashioned Girl" or the rollicking "Swimmin' Hole." Although Kirby's distinctive nasal-inflected vocals do a fine job of caressing his lyrics (which tend to lean toward the typical romantic vein), the Cactus Brothers' strength was always in the band's skilled instrumentation. Few country bands in the '90s could boast of players such as pedal steel wizard Sam Poland, fiery fiddler Tramp, and mountain dulcimer master David Schnaufer. Along with Walk the West veterans and brothers Will Golemon (guitar, banjo) and John Golemon (bass) and drummer David Kennedy, the band's multi-talented multi-instrumentalists added complexity and depth to every song. When allowed to take a song and run with it, such as on instrumental tracks like "Blackberry Blossom" or their popular take on the traditional "Fisher's Hornpipe" -- the accompanying video received constant airplay on several cable TV networks -- the Cactus Brothers stood without peer.

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