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Red Meat

13 – 1998 (Ranchero)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Red Meat

13 is a lucky number for everybody who thinks country music's been going downhill since the Buckaroos broke up. San-Francisco-based Red Meat sound like they stepped out of a time warp to show those smart-ass new traditionalists what old time country was really like.

These guys are not hot dogs (sorry), they are serious homework-doing musicians. Actually you can tell they're serious musicians just by looking at the band photos. How? Well, let's just say they're never going to make the centerfold of Country Music Magazine. The fact that one vocalist is named Smelle y Kelley is also a tip-off that these are not hat-of-the-month pretty boys. Choice of material is another clue that these guys are the real deal; you are never going to hear Shania Twain singing about how crummy it is to be poor (as RM does on "Poverty Line"). Despite the uncharacteristic (but hilariously kinky) S&M love song "My Baby Beats Me The Best" and a few lines like "I felt like a used-up roll of Charmin'/When I saw you on his arm and/I guess that it's just my karma" (from "The Heartache's On Me") Red Meat usually plays it straight on this, their second CD. And when they do they can sound just like Merle Haggard's Strangers (on the instrumental "Marie") or one-up every drinking song you've ever heard with the crying-in-your-Pepsi "Teetotalin' Time. They can even channel the spirit of Frankie Laine on "Cattle Drive."

If you've been wondering where's the beef, here's your answer.