The Groobees

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Since the Groobees split after this, their third album, they will probably always be known as the group that originally did "Wide Open Spaces," which became a mammoth hit for the Dixie Chicks. That's too bad, because the Amarillo, TX, group had mastered a likable folk-country-pop blend. "Cheap Trucker Speed" is one of the more appealing tracks here, and isn't as tongue in cheek as the title may lead one to think. In fact, it's downright excellent country-rock, the kind that Chris Hillman would put his name on. "Let's Go Out Tonight" is a slice of roots pop that could go in two directions. It's innocuous and sappy enough to be covered by a mainstream country artist and be played at thousands of weddings (sample lyric: "You look so lovely, the time ain't so right/I've got some money, let's go out tonight"). Nevertheless, with the arrangement and the way Scott Melott sings it, it could also fit comfortably on a Peter Case album. And that points to the most enduring yet puzzling feature of the Groobees: They occupy a kind of horse latitudes between genres (or perhaps somewhere between the commercialism of mainstream country and the critical respect of the No Depression camp). The ubiquitous Lloyd Maines (who also happens to play dad to a Dixie Chick) produces.

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