Freddie Roulette

Man of Steel

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    8
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You'd be hard-pressed to find another lap steel player like Fred Roulette. The man makes up his own rules on style, and wanders through whatever musical fields he fancies; on Man of Steel he ranges from Stax to jazz to Willie Nelson and even the "Endless Summer Theme," just to show he can do anything he pleases. Perhaps surprisingly, he's happy to take a back seat for much of the album, letting guest vocalists like David Lindley and Ken Emerson hog the limelight. But there's plenty of his playing, and he's particularly transcendent on the "Endless Summer Theme," where his steel drifts airily above a pair of guitars played in the slack key style. If there's one criticism of this album, it's that there's not enough of his singing. He's good -- very good, in fact -- as his work on the opener, "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" clearly proves, and it would have been good to have him at least singing backup on each track. But you take what you can get, and with playing as sublime as his, anything else is a bonus.

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