Brendan Croker

The Great Indoors

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Between his first album for Silvertone Records in 1989, (Brendan Croker & the 5 O'Clock Shadows), and 1991's The Great Indoors, British-born Brendan Croker would reach his commercial peak, charting as a member of the Mark Knopfler one-off, the Notting Hillbillies (number 52), as well as appearing with the group on Saturday Night Live. With the aid of such notables as Knopfler and his sometimes collaborator, guitar legend Chet Atkins, as well as Tony Joe White and the record's producer, Barry Beckett, the Nashville recorded The Great Indoors looked to broaden Brendan Croker's audience. This time, minus the 5 O'Clock Shadows, Croker expands on the American roots mix of his previous effort with pretty much the same results both musically and in the marketplace, failing to capitalize on his newfound visibility. Croker is an engaging singer whose husky baritone is well-suited to the eclectic mix of material here, which can be moving and memorable, or just miss, bordering on being merely genre exercises. As was the case with his Silvertone debut, it's the more laid-back, country-tinged cuts that are most successful on The Great Indoors. Tracks such as the opener, "Heart and Home," the uncertainty of "Darlin'," and the resigned solitude of "I Guess That Says It All" are terrific, unassuming charmers, while the more R&B-based "Send Me to New Orleans," the thumping rocker, "What It Takes" (covered by Wynonna), the roadhouse blues of "Anything I Can Say" and the zydeco-flavored, "Take Me Back Baby," while containing all the right ingredients and not without their appeal, can leave you somewhat unfulfilled. Still, with a stellar supporting cast which includes Knopfler and Atkins' singular playing, a voice that can redeem even questionable material and a handful of first-rate songs, The Great Indoors shouldn't disappoint those who came to Brendan Croker via the Notting Hillbillies.

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