The Notorious Cherry Bombs

The Notorious Cherry Bombs

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The Notorious Cherry Bombs are the country music equivalent of a supergroup. Most of the members of this band -- Rodney Crowell, Vince Gill, Tony Brown, and Hank DeVito -- all met while playing together in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band. The original Cherry Bombs were Crowell's recording and touring band after he left Harris' group. Guitarist Richard Bennett stepped into the Cherry Bombs when Albert Lee left to tour with Eric Clapton. The late drummer Larrie London was also a member of that band, as was Emory Gordy. While London makes an appearance by the magic of tape, Gordy had no interest in the reunion. Also present on this set are Nashville session hotshots Eddie Bayers, John Hobbs, and Michael Rhodes. Jenny Gill, Vince's daughter, sings backup on one track as well. Sonically, the music is loose good-time country-rock, and the gorgeous harmonies between Gill and Crowell are a high point. The songs are mostly spread out between the pair; they co-wrote three, and each contributed a pair of solo tracks with a smattering of others carefully chosen for full relaxed effect. All the collaborations -- the rollicking opener, "Let It Roll, Let It Ride," which is a modern-day version of country boogie, the single "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long," and the midtempo torch song "Dangerous Curves" -- are clear standouts, as is a studio version of Gill's live rockabilly standard "Oklahoma Dust." DeVito's classic "Sweet Little Lisa," immortalized by Dave Edmunds, is another watermark. Given the inclusion of this track and DeVito's link to Edmunds, the Notorious Cherry Bombs have a metaphorical relationship as the country music cousin of Rockpile, the Edmunds and Nick Lowe-fronted multi-talented group that issued the classic Seconds of Pleasure in the early '80s -- while the original Cherry Bombs were performing and recording together here and in England. As reunions go, this is as solid and wonderfully played a set of tunes -- with a boatload of guitar players -- as one could assemble. There's "destiny" inscribed in all these grooves. If listeners connect, this seeming one-off may turn into something else. Let's hope they do.

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