Charlie McCoy

Charlie McCoy

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When it comes time to put together a project of his own, harmonica man Charlie McCoy seems to want to make up for all the empty space in his car trunk, never needed for much but a spare six-pack when he was off to another recording session packing his entire instrumental arsenal in his shirt pocket. Here listeners have nearly an army of various musicians conducting skilled maneuvers in and out of various recording sessions, hoping not to trod on each other's toes as the intricate arrangements unfold. A sure sign of someone trying to pack every possible instrument into his car is the presence of both bongos and vibraphone, and this album has both, along with some of the first use of Moog synthesizer on a country record, courtesy of the clever John Harris. There's no denying that it all sounds pretty good, that is unless the listener's tastes veer far afield from strongly country-pop-flavored instrumental music with the occasional chanting choir popping in. The strongest conceptual factor with this set of songs is that each tune is something of a showstopper in some way, be it the rousing crowd-pleaser "Me and Bobby McGee" cut when it was in its full glory, the heart-melting (and potentially stomach-churning) "Danny Boy" featuring glorious pedal steel work from Curly Chalker, or a desperate "I Can't Stop Loving You." What philosophy was motivating this artist to create such an over the top, emotionally trying album is intriguing. On some levels, it just seems like someone trying way too hard, resulting in performances that have no choice other than to succumb to the basic inner rottenness of the material. Yet the music also seems to be sailing off into the sky at other times, the fine musicianship of the players more than enough to transform a mere "Rocky Top" or "Woman (Sensuous Woman)" into much more than just a song. Well, maybe not "Woman (Sensuous Woman)."

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