After leaving NRBQ, with whom he spent more than two decades as lead guitarist and vital contributor of song material and vocals, Big Al Anderson relocated to Nashville and launched a second career as a country songwriter, placing his wares with many an A-list artist. He put his own recording career on the back burner, but then in 2006 came out with two distinctly different releases. After Hours, as its title suggests, was a quiet affair, largely acoustic; Pawn Shop Guitars is anything but. Here Anderson is back to doing what he does best, ripping scorching rockabilly licks out of his electric, picking the blues, getting funky, and just plain rocking out. The acoustic is present too, but this isn't about laying back, it's about waking up with eyes wide open. The lead track, "Something in the Water," is classic Big Al, and highly reminiscent of NRBQ at their most fired-up. "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" is pure pop with a country twang (the Everly Brothers could have done wonders with it), and "Drinkin' on the Weekend," appropriately, is a bar-bustin' rocker fueled by a pumpin' Johnnie Johnson-esque piano break. Anderson employs a team of excellent players to bring this, his strongest solo album to date, to the finish line. Pawn Shop Guitars is more than a hint that this most underrated guitarist/singer/songwriter misses his old job more than he previously let on.
AllMusic Review by Jeff Tamarkin