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Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs

Still Smokin' After 20 Years – 2004 (Swine Song)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs

Culled from Billy Bacon's 20-year odyssey with various Pigs lineups, this 21-song anthology provides the perfect introduction to a potent club act that has surprisingly stayed under the mainstream radar. Bacon possesses an appealing flair for imbuing every song - including rockabilly scorchers "Red Dress" and "Little Town Fool" - with a heartfelt dose of Tex-Mex and blues. Whether nicking the Fabulous Thunderbirds' vibe for party rockers "Battle with the Bottle" and "I'm a Fool" or latching onto Louis Prima style jump and swing during "When It's Cold Outside" and "Jump for Jive," he sounds timelessly authentic.

Other influences are also given full Forbidden Pigs treatment as well. The Latin language tinged "Un Mas Cerveza" and "Hasta Manana Iguana" boast an effervescent Sir Douglas Quintet production sense while "Valley's and Peaks" smartly appropriates Creedence Clearwater Revival's sound. Moreover, "Clown" exhibits a passion for romantic 60s soul and Bruce Springsteen's working class irony neatly shadows "All I Really Want." Moreover, the snappy "While the Wife's Away" and mortality conscious "Clock on the Wall," proves that Bacon is a topnotch country singer capable of raising a smile or tear at will. Of all the compilations released in 2004, this one earns my highest recommendation.