The West Is Best

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Sand is the duo of guitarist and songwriter Roy Swedeen and all-around poseur Kim Fowley, and The West Is Best is an album's worth of twangy garage rock that the terminally arch Fowley compares to the work of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Naturally, it's not even close. The relatively unknown Swedeen is a capable though somewhat derivative songwriter with a passable gruff bar-band voice and some talent as a rough and ready guitarist. By far the best tracks are the three Swedeen-penned instrumentals, which are somewhere between Dick Dale's reverb intensity and the soundtrack obsessions of early Wall of Voodoo. By far the worst are Fowley's four vocal showcases, the most excruciating by far being the spoken word "Desert Town" and the incoherent pseudopoetics of the title track. To be fair, the opening "Underground Garage" is a sweet tribute to Steve van Zandt's garage-rocking radio show of the same name, but the rest of The West Is Best suffers from Kim Fowley's inborn pretentiousness.

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