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The Orbits

Crazy Beat – 1998 (Wildstone Audio)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by The Orbits

Roots rock fans are likely to sit up and take notice of the Missouri-based Orbits, who manage to incorporate a little bit of everything into their musical stew; from rockabilly ("Alex the Starman") to surf ("Orbit Surfin'") to western swing ("Let Me Go Home Whiskey"), though the rockabilly tends to predominate. The quintet makes the most of top-notch musicianship, particularly the guitar work of Thayne Bradford and Jon Ferber and vocal work of Bradford, Ferber, and steel guitarist Bob Breidenbach.

If there's one complaint that can be made, in fact, it's that the group is a little too polite and a little too accomplished. Striking a balance between reckless abandon (Herbie Duncan's "Hot Lips Baby," for instance) and technical perfection (Chet Atkins) is nearly impossible, though it'd be nice to hear the group walk a little more on the wild side next time.

Make no mistake, though: this is a fun album. (Available for $15 CD, $10 cassette from Wildstone Audio, PO Box, 511580, St. Louis, MO 63151)