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Two Tons of Steel

Vegas – 2005 (Palo Duro)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Two Tons of Steel

Two Tons of Steel is a veteran band from the San Antonio area (back about four or so albums ago, they went under the moniker the Dead Crickets). The band's music is an engaging mix-and-mash of rockabilly, hillbilly and honky tonk thatcomes out sounding like a Buddy Holly-Roy Orbison cross.

"Unglued" is a high-test rocker right out of the Holly school, while "Can't Stay With You," a dark tale of self-recrimination, also has a Holly pop vibe that's pulled in a country direction by Denny Mathias's steel work. Touches such as the horns on the title track and the jazzy steel wedded to the rockabilly of "Your Kiss" also raise the band above the routine.

So do their covers. While they offer a fairly run-of-the-mill reading of "Secret Agent Man," there's nothing ordinary about re-imagining bluesman John Brim's "Ice Cream Man" and The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" as hillbilly numbers or taking the 'billy chestnut "Red Hot" in an acoustic direction - substituting Dobro and acoustic for electric guitar leads - that still rocks like crazy.In short, with their Palo Duro debut, Two Tons of Steel has come up with a record that's a sure bet.