Freak Mountain Ramblers

Freak Mountain Ramblers

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Whatever this self-titled debut (on the band's own label) lacks in production gloss and elaborate packaging, it more than makes up for in character and charm. But that's probably to be expected from a band that includes former Holy Modal Rounders and Michael Hurley sidemen. Like the Rounders and Hurley, the Ramblers don't let their respect for traditional American folk music -- "John Henry" and "Wind and Rain" are covered here -- get in the way of their good time. Their absurd sense of humor is contagious, too. The band's "youngsters" (including Kevin Richey, (aka "Bingo," of Portland's sadly missed Golden Delicious) contribute originals and arrangements that could easily be mistaken for long-lost Have Moicy! session outtakes. Jimmy Boyer's "Yer'n or My'n" would make a great honky tonk jukebox selection. The Ramblers' renditions of "Wild About My Lovin'" and the truck-driving classic "Girl on the Billboard" chug along with infectious glee. Acknowledging their irreverent forefathers, the band even gives the Rounders' "Belly Song" a go, complete with honking R&B saxophone accompaniment. More originals would have been nice (maybe even more fun?), but the album closer, Gene Autry's "Ridin' Down the Canyon," suggests that you probably haven't heard the last of these cosmic cowboys.

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