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Wooden Leg

Wooden Leg – 1996 (East Side Digital)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by Wooden Leg

Boston's Blood Oranges had become one of the most promising alternative-country bands - their last album, 1994's "The Crying Tree," was one of the masterpieces of the genre - before calling it quits last year. Blood Oranges frontman Jimmy Ryan formed Wooden Leg with fellow ex-Oranges Mark Spencer and Keith Leverault. Also, Oranges ex-bassist and sometime vocalist/songwriter Cheri Knight has just released a record. Wooden Leg's self-titled album is the more country-flavored of the two. Traditional country themes are everywhere, from tragedy ("Tuesday's Paper") to heartbreak ("Sweet Lies," "To The Bone"), and there's also an electrified cover of the traditional murder ballad, "Pretty Polly." Ryan's own mandolin plays a prominent role, but it's balanced by Spencer's searing lead guitar and an aggressive rhythm section.

There are occasional experimental touches, such as a menacing lead vocal supplied via telephone by Morphine's Mark Sandman on "Out Of My Yard," but the record hews close to the BOs' seamless blend of high-octane country-rock with shades of bluegrass, deftly mixing acoustic and electric, traditional and modern, country and edgy rock.