Big & Rich

Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace

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If Comin' to Your City didn't provide the shock and awe of Horse of a Different Color, at least on chart terms, it did reveal that Big & Rich weren't a one-trick pony, destined to disappear after one huge record. But then, they were hardly one-hit wonders -- they were the leaders of the Muzik Mafia, a gleeful group of tacky hucksters and savvy craftsman who remade Nashville in their own image, starting with their own music but extending far, far down, from Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy to reviving John Anderson and Rich co-writing like a madman. It was the kind of mad productivity not dissimilar to modern-day hip-hop producers -- they were branding left and right, bringing in everybody under their umbrella -- but it sure brought up charges of spreading themselves thin, especially in the wake of the underperformance of Comin' to Your City. But even if that album didn't generate an anthem like "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" and even if it had a few moments where the calculation shone through their crassness, it still had a musical punch. And for its successor, Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace, Big & Rich came up with a good gimmick: divide it into a fast side and a slow side, as if people still listened to music on LPs or cassettes. Great concept.

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