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Notorious Cherry Bombs sparkle once again

By Jeffrey B. Remz, July 2004

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A first stab at recording fell through because Brown was badly hurt after falling down stairs in Los Angeles in 2003 and needed to recuperate for many months.

Eventually the timing worked out to record.

Brown says it was a now or never situation. "It seemed like if we were going to do this, if we don't do it this year, then we'll never do it. We'll be talking about in a bar."

Crowell underscored the attitude going into the recording.

"Here's what we said when we started recording," says Crowell. "Vince and I said this, and everyone else agreed - let's start this, and if it's fun, let's keep going, and if it stops being fun, let's pull the plug."

"It never stopped being fun," says Crowell.

The octet recorded 12 songs. A chunk were written together by Crowell and Gill, including the opener "Let It Roll, Let It Ride," which also happens to be the closer in a changed reprise.

"I always told Vince 'you jerk, you are selling millions and billions of records, and you won't write any songs with me?' He'd say, 'Okay, I'm going to'. Then he'd just blow me off."

This was not the first time the two wrote together. "When we were kids and foolng around, we wrote songs," says Crowell. One co-write, "Oklahoma Borderline," is a fast-paced staple of Gill concerts.

And Gill and Crowell both contributed songs they had written on their own. DeVito offered "Sweet Little Lisa," a song he wrote about 25 years ago with Walter Martin and Donivan Cowart.

Crowell says "Let It Roll, Let It Ride" underscores the attitude in making the album.

"I think we were talking to ourselves (with) that song," he says. "That song was just sort of articulating the philosophy we were talking about when were going to make the record...hey, lighten up, let something good happen."

"Sweet Little Lisa" harkens back to the first Cherry Bombs.

"That's actually one of the songs that was around when the original Cherry Bombs were playing. We never recorded it. I think Dave Edmunds recorded it. It was a song out of our think tank that has remained with it. I think it was the first song that we recorded for this. We all knew the words. It has that country rock flavor that we were identified with when we did uptempo back in that day."

Despite having so many top notch players, Bennett says it was not too difficult to figure out who would play what, according to Bennett.

"When you have three guitar players in a band, there's a little bit of who's going to do what," Bennett says. "Hank doesn't always necessarily play steel. There were times when we had three guitars going at once. It really depends on the song and on whose style is better suited to taking the lead."

"Generally speaking, Vince had the vast majority of guitar work," he says.

"He played lead on 'Oklahoma Dust'," he says, adding, "I'm very happy to take a rhythm guitar or secondary guitar role. It's never a tussle. It's one of those things that happens very naturally. We just kind of all (fell) into our spots, and that comes from years of doing session work too."

While production costs could run expensive, that wasn't the case here. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the main players weren't paid, nor were the producers (the Cherry Bombs).

"Usually if I cut an album on George Strait or whoever and I use the top engineers in town, using the best studios and best musicians, as quick as I can cut George, it's going to cost $200,000," says Brown. "I think this record, we bought it all in for about $50,000-$75,000. It's easy to recoup this record."

Crowell says these vets didn't have use for high tech tools in making the record. "We didn't belabor anything. We worked really fast. If there was any arrogance on our part on all, we wanted to show some of these punks we didn't know auto tuning and Pro Tools. Anything more than work would be bloated."

The recording was finished in about 28 days including mixing, which Crowell handled. That was about half the time he spent on his last album, "Fate's Right Hand."

Brown like his compadrés interviewed does not seem consumed by the idea of selling millions.

"Let's cut a great album, but let's not be so hard on ourselves that we have to get critical acclaim," says Brown. "If we don't have that by now at this stage in our careers, we might as well quit."

Crowell says he is comfortable with the album the group made.

Will the Notorious Cherry Bombs be relegated to the CD bins only or might they hit the stage? The thinking of several members was that they probably would do between half a dozen and a dozen shows to promote the disc.

"From now on, it'll be a scheduling problem," says Crowell. "Everybody's making a living. I'm out on the road with my band. Everyone else's doing what they do. I guess if the music speaks loud enough and it leads to something, we'll go and follow it. If the music isn't interesting for people to want to hear it, I guess we won't. I don't want to say about that. It may be something. It may not be. It's already been a success."

"This is just good old boys getting back together to make a record," says Brown. "If it does great, great. If it doesn't sell, it doesn't go platinum, then I don't feel that we failed. We did it just to document who we were back then and who we are now and how we have something to say musically as a band."

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