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k.d. lang

A Truly Western Experience- 25th Anniversary Edition – 2010 (Bumstead)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by k.d. lang

She came twirling out of Canada in 1987, pinching the cheeks of the Nashville establishment with a blend of countrypolitan vocals and rockin' Dave Edmunds-inspired rootsabilly. Before "Angel with a Lariat" appeared, Kathryn Dawn Lang had charmed her native land with television appearances, blistering live gigs and a nine-track album that coalesced her vision of country music.

This crisp-sounding 15-track reissue, fleshed out with live cuts, a demo, and her debut single, including the first-rate b-side Damned Old Dog, is beautifully packaged and focuses attention on the k.d. lang back-story- before Owen Bradley, Roy Orbison, the Grammys, PETA, Vanity Fair, Tony Bennett and Hallelujah.

Mildly disappointing in 1984, time has brought perspective to "A Truly Western Experience." It was a darn fine little platter and announced lang as the anti-Mandrell. Even when over the top, the performances were sincere; one may hear a self-deprecating twinkle in her eye, but lang's devotion to the music was genuine.

Playing at rockabilly with Bopalena and bopping country on Hanky Panky, lang was the poster child for those who embraced faux-vintage antics. Stop, Look, and Listen remains magnetic. Even with its range of tempos and styles, few anticipated Pine and Stew and Busy Being Blue hinted at a future as cosmopolitan crooner.

The live tracks flash one back to crowded campus lounges, witnessing the development of a star in cut-down cowboy boots. It is only viewing the bonus three-track DVD that one recalls much of the circumstance was more than a little campy.