For their second release, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers didn't provide another studio effort; instead, they came out with this engaging live album, which was recorded at shows in Denver and Tempe, AZ from 1999-2000. That was an interesting and unexpected move -- many bands won't even think about issuing a live album until they have several studio albums under their belts -- but the Peacemakers sound their best onstage, and Real to Reel helps breathe new life into their material. Most of the twangy songs on Real to Reel appeared on the Arizona roots rockers' debut album, Honky Tonk Union, including "Tell Yer Mama," "West Texas Moon," and "Jack Vs. Jose" (a humorous number that finds an Arizona man telling a Memphis barmaid that, while Jack Daniels whiskey might be the hard liquor of choice in the Deep South, Jose Cuervo tequila reigns supreme in his home state). Clyne and his colleagues also perform a few Refreshments songs ("Horses," "Una Soda," "Mekong") and an inspired version of Steve Earle's "Feel Alright." Anyone who appreciated the earthy, down-home, southwestern ambience that defined Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers' first album will find that Real to Reel is quite faithful to the spirit of its predecessor. The main difference between Honky Tonk Union and Real to Reel is the fact that the band has a harder, tougher edge onstage than it does in the studio. Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers bring a lot of enthusiasm to these performances, and Real to Reel is not only a consistently appealing document of their live show -- it is arguably the best release of the band's initial lineup.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson