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Sawyer Brown

The Hits Live' – 2000 (Curb)

Reviewed by Tom Netherland

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CDs by Sawyer Brown

There's a lot to be said for great live artists. Not only do they attract hardcore followings, but they also tend to sustain lasting careers. Like Sawyer Brown. Few would have given the one-time "Star Search" participants much of a chance in country. Too pop. Too loud.

But here we are, nearly two decades later, and Mark Miller's band keeps crankin' 'em out. As shown through 14 live tracks and four studio cuts, Sawyer Brown has maintained a sound that's driven into the hearts of scads of fans. Makes sense, then, to record a live album. Right? Not when hits like "Step That Step" and "The Dirt Road" sound like the studio recordings with an audience track tacked on.

Okay, so "The Boys and Me" differs. Yet what's with a so-called country band doing its best to record its take on hard rock? Too bad the boys didn't include its concert staple "Takin' Care of Business," a 1970's rock hit for Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Reckon that one rocked too much.

If that's the case, then how about "Perfect World," one of four new studio recordings included? Its "oh oh ohs" and "sha la la las" pour pop. Organs, guitars and silly lyrics point East, West, North and South away from whatever country sounds still inhabit this band. Don't even ask about their copping bits of David Bowie-like vocals on "Garage Band."