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Big House

Woodstock Nation – 2000 (Dead Reckoning)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Big House

Bakersfield band Big House, once on MCA, debuts on Dead Reckoning by serving up a thick gumbo flavored with country, soul, blues and rock and roll. Two original members - guitarist/vocalist Monty Byrom and guitarist/organist/pianist/vocalist David Neuhauser - produced in addition to penning 10 of its 11 tracks. Steve Vines covers bass and backing vocals, and Benny Rappa is on drums.

The lone cover, Hank Snow's "I'm Moving On," is a mixture of funk and twang to rival Elvis' 1969 version. Most funky, however, is a hidden track at the end: an instrumental with heavy duty organ, offbeat percussion and flashes of scorching guitar. "Buck These Haggard Blues," a roadhouse rhythm and blues tune, pays tribute to two of Bakersfield's best in its title and tells the story of the Okies and Mexicans who worked the fields there.The slower songs - the countrified "He Don't Need to Know" and "Lonely Shade of Blue," and ballads "River Town" and "Don't Do Me Any Favors" - are meditations on solitude in which the instrumentation enhances without overpowering: pleasing to the ear, except for the moments when Byrom's voice lapses into Dave Matthews-ness. Although there's nothing too risky or raw here, Big House delivers effective, straightforward lyrics and an adeptness in incorporating several musical styles.