Leon Redbone

From Branch to Branch

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This is as extravagant and complicated a studio production as any of Leon Redbone's releases. Complete details about the musicians involved in each session are printed in miniscule yellow type of the eyestrain-inducing variety, perhaps a gesture at making younger listeners feel more sympathetic to the elderly music fans who would have been old enough to remember some of this material first-hand even back in the early '80s. Other songs are so familiar that recognition is not an issue; the question would be more appropriately, why bother? But questions of taste are not really a subject for this performer, who once having established his shtick and the prerequisite of technical talent required to pull it off, created albums that inevitably mix the sublime with the totally boring. Disastrous moves here include a weak Hank Williams cover, since expressing sincere emotion is not really in Redbone's bones. "Prairie Lullaby" is pretty sappy as well, and not really the sort of thing someone as immersed in vintage music as Redbone should have wanted to create. The tracks featuring Dr. John come off much better, examples of rollicking interplay that producer Beryl Handler, whose name even implies a hands-on touch, is wise to leave in a fairly spontaneous mode. While Redbone's performance of "My Blue Heaven" is fairly hack, a good rhythm section with bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Grady Tate certainly does a good job on the backup.

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