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Wylie and the Wild West Show

Way Out West – 1997 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Wylie and the Wild West Show

Wylie Gustafson and his group the Wild West Show (now truncated to the Wild West) have been around since 1989, and in that time have released two albums. "Way Out West" represents Wylie's move to the big time, relatively speaking; one hopes that it will bring him the recognition he deserves, for this collection swings from start to finish.

Wylie works both sides of the country and western hybrid, opening the album with the stone country lament "Hello Heartache," and moving next to the western classic "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" and then several other country permutations, including a handful of Bakersfield-sound originals ("Heartaches, Tears & Misery") and obscure covers ("Rain, Rain" from Wynn Stewart, and "Fill It Up," originally recorded by one-time Stranger Bobby Wayne).

He serves up Elton Britt-quality yodeling on Britt's "Give Me a Pinto Pal," western swing ("I Still Get a Thrill"), and even some rig-rocking on the old Del Reeves classic "Girl on the Billboard." It all hangs together as something Gustafson calls "contemporary traditional," executed by his low-slung vocals and the Wild West's tight picking, and adds up to one of the finer releases of the year.