High or Hurtin': The Songs of Willie P. Bennett

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings

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High or Hurtin': The Songs of Willie P. Bennett Review

by Frank Eisenhuth

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings was a moniker for three Canadian folk musicians coming together to pay a tribute to the music of their fellow folk man Willie P. Bennett: guitarist Colin Linden; vocalist Tom Wilson, frontman of Junkhouse; and guitarist Stephen Fearing, like Bennett, a well-known folk troubadour in Canada. They took the name for the virtual band from the title of the 1978 album of Willie P. Bennett and recorded 14 of Bennett's songs with some guest musicians, including Bruce Cockburn and Richard Bell, who belonged to the '90s lineup of the Band. Bennett himself performs interesting low-octave backing vocals on the album's opener, "Come on Train." All in all, the performers stick quite closely to the original arrangements and do not subject the songs to any experiments, but nevertheless they manage to produce some striking moments like the interesting vocal interplay on "White Line" (Willie P. Bennett's debut single from 1969) or the lovely ballad "Faces."

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