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The Waco Brothers

Cowboy In Flames – 1997 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Don Yates

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CDs by The Waco Brothers

Led by the Mekons' Jon Langford and also containing a number of otherindie-rock refugees, this insurgent-country band comes on like rowdydrinking buddies who also happen to be committed leftists. The Wacos bring plenty of punk attitude to their boisterous performances, while laying bare the pain inflicted by corporate and government power.

The Wacos carry along their militant politics with equally hard-hittingmusic that sounds like a rowdy Texas honky tonk taken over by committedpunk rockers. Their raucous, invigorating sound makes an appropriatevehicle for the scathing attack on government abuse in the album title song, and the portrayal of the deadening working-class grind in "Fast Train Down."

Along with their own originals, the Wacos also turn out three spiritedcovers of country classics. Occasionally, the band's raggedness limitstheir effectiveness. In particular, some of the songs could've usedstronger vocals. And there's also an unsuccessful attempt to resurrect theoverused Bo Diddley beat in "Out In The Light." Still, the Wacos' second album is an often-stirring document ofhard-hitting music and politics.