Hoyt Axton

Southbound/Fearless

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AllMusic Review by

A sequel to their 2007 two-fer of Less Than the Song/Live Machine, this 2008 release from Raven combines Hoyt Axton's second two albums for A&M -- 1975's Southbound and 1976's Fearless -- as a two-fer on a single disc with no bonus tracks. These two records found Axton's career as a performer on a bit of an upswing, as he capitalized on the success of "Bony Fingers" by delivering an album that was slicker and poppier in Southbound. Although it had a handful of softer, introspective moments reminiscent of his albums from a couple years back, the album was glossy and poppy, fueled by neo-novelty party songs like "Roll Your Own" and "The No No Song," which sports a cameo by Cheech & Chong. It wasn't just that Southbound included quite a bit of light, funny tunes, but that the record glided by on shiny laid-back grooves, positioned halfway between Nashville professionalism and Southern California mellow. This wound up alienating fans of Axton's fragile My Griffin Is Gone or the funkier Joy to the World, but this slick good time is quintessentially '70s and quite appealing on that level. Fearless follows through on that slick sound but it cuts back on the novelties, so it achieves a nice balance between Axton's emerging pop crossover side and his old-fashioned songcraft, and that also makes it a nice balance to Southbound on this two-fer. This is a good disc but be forewarned: if you already own the 1998 two-disc compilation The A&M Years then you already have this material -- in the same running order, no less (after all, each of the two A&M Years discs merely features two albums paired up together) -- as the entire second disc of that set.

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