Leon Russell

Hank Wilson, Vol. 2

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Leon Russell used his alter ego, Hank Wilson, to explore his love of country classics, and the songs here certainly qualify, be it the venerable "Wabash Cannonball" or "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," or a run through the honky-tonk "If You've Got The Money Honey (I've Got the Time)," Lefty Frizell's hit tune. The real problem -- if it really is one -- is that everything here gets treated the same. So "Oh Lonesome Me" gets the same blithe rendering as "Waltz Across Texas," with the band banging away, albeit in very musical fashion, without much subtlety or thought about the lyrics. While that works very well on Harlan Howard's wonderful "Heartaches By the Number," it's less successful elsewhere, as with "On the Wings of a Dove." It's as if, though Russell's heart is in the right place and his ability is beyond question, his taste abandoned him during the making of the disc, and the (uncredited) sidemen just do what they're told. So, while none of that stops this being a pleasant listening experience, it can't be anything more. Russell doesn't have the greatest voice, an acquired taste, although happily he keeps it at its least grating, but all the parts contribute to a whole that's never more than background music for the evening rush at a truck stop.

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