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The Wandering Eyes

Tales of Forbidden Love – 1998 (Lazy SOB)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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Some of Austin's alternative country elite honor one of country's more mournful sub-genres - the cheatin' song. Dale Watson, Kelly Willis, Rosie Flores, Ted Roddy, Chris O'Donnell and Jason Roberts appear.

It was hearing Roberts jamming on several little known cheatin' songs that inspired producer (and Asleep at the Wheel bandmate) Dave Sanger to assemble the fictional all-star band to cut this collection. The tunes display many viewpoints of failed relationships. In "It's a Cheating Situation," made popular by Moe Bandy, Willis and Watson lament the lack of love at home that led to infidelity. Similarly, in "Me and Mr. Jones," Willis' reworking of the Billy Paul soul classic, the singer shows signs of remorse in her participation in an illicit affair.

Some show a more detached, cold-hearted attitude. In "Cheatin' Traces," an obscure Ray Froshay song, Roddy's only concern for a loving wife at home is to shield her from evidence of his indiscretion. In James Pastell's "Hell Yes, I Cheated," Roddy callously admits not only to having an affair, but proudly proclaims his intention to do it again. "The Game of Triangles," inspired by the Bobby Bare, Liz Anderson and Norma Jean recording, gives all three sides of the story as Roddy (the cheatin' husband), Flores (the cheatee), and O'Connell (the other woman) all attempt to justify their behavior.

The one original is Watson's "Unspoken Kind," a tale of passion that must go unexpressed because both he and the object of his desire are married. Roberts' version of "Forbidden Angel," the Mel Street classic inspiring this album, also is the story of desire that must go unsatisfied-in this instance not because of a woman at home, but because the angel in question is an underaged temptress.

Though conceived as a singular project, fans of real country music will be left wanting more of The Wandering Eyes. (Lazy SOB at E-Mail: