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Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

What a Dream It's Been – 2013 (Cow Island)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

As anyone will tell you who's followed the collective career of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, this is one band that refuses to sit still. Having evolved from their original rockabilly roots, they've made it a point to incorporate whatever retro style seems to strike their fancy, whether it's country, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll mariachi or any other approach that predates the present era. So, it's little wonder that "What A Dream It's Been" provides such a generous helping of retro references, unabashedly jumping from genre to genre while continually glancing backwards in the process.

That said, Big Sandy's decision to open the set with the reggae rhythms of Baby Baby Me seems somewhat incongruous, a description rarely used to describe the band's varied template. As the set proceeds, the usual mix becomes evident, whether its the jaunty back porch hoopla of This Ain't A Good Time, the '60s-sounding rave-up Missouri Gal or the croon of tunes like (You Mean) Too Much To Me and Don't Desert Me. Truth be told, these songs are culled from the band's previous repertoire and refashioned, an appropriate way to commemorate 25 years of making music. Nevertheless, the low-key arrangements find Big Dandy himself moving more towards front and center, somewhat surprising considering the fact that the Fly-Rite Boys still retain equal billing.

Ultimately, the group remains a guilty pleasure, one that ultimately makes its best impression live and onstage in front of an audience that can bop and rock like it's still 1960. Yet, those in need of a hoot and a holler will find "What A Dream It's Been" far better than any other nocturnal pastime.