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Yankee Grey

Untamed – 1999 (Monument/Sony)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Yankee Grey

There was a time and it wasn't that long ago when naming your C&W band "Yankee Grey" would be as good a marketing move as naming your restaurant "Hitler's Kosher Deli." But this Cincinnati sextet is not a C&W band any more than Diamond Rio or any number of '90's hair bands. They're a rock group - not that there's anything wrong with that. It's obvious from their listed musical influences (KISS, Boston, Led Zeppelin) and from their choice of material. The title track is a howl of sexual frustration with lines that Lefty Frizzell wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole like "I'm about to go off like a loaded gun."

The question then is are they a good rock band. And the answer is no, they're too country. They spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on their feelings - especially their hurt feelings. Lines like "A man with a heart torn and tattered" leading to the inevitable rhyme with "shattered" (in "That Would Be Me") are all too commonplace. The last rocker who admitted to crying was Roy Orbison, and he only got away with it because he sang like an angel.

So, while their harmonies are tight, "All Things Considered" is catchy and "Another Nine Minutes" is cute, Yankee Grey has the feel of a meal neither fish nor fowl. (They're obviously not history buffs either. It was the Confederates - remember the Confederates, the guys who invented country music? - who wore gray.)