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Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

On the Go – 2002 (Jeems)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with its first proper U.S. release, Big Sandy's second album found him and his band in a transitional mode; still very much a straight-ahead rockabilly band, but not for much longer.

Led by vocalist/guitarist Robert Williams (aka Big Sandy), "On the Go" found the band sounding not at all unlike Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, thanks largely to the uncanny Cliff Gallup-influenced guitar work of T.K. Smith and the supremely swinging drumming of Bobby Trimble, the only remaining holdover in 2002 other than Williams. Numbers like "Pinin'," "Love Me to Cinders" and "Steady Baby" are very much in the early Gene Vincent mold. Still, more complex numbers like "Glad When I'm Gone" and "Goodnight Rock" wouldn't have sounded out of place on any of the group's later albums. And, in fact, re-recorded versions of "Hi-Billy Music" and "This Heart O Mine" would show up two years later on the band's breakthrough album, "Jumping From 6 to 6."

Three of the four bonus tracks not included on the original release give a further taste of things to come. Smith is still onboard, but the addition of steel guitarist Lee Jeffriess broadened the group's sonic palate, making the patented West/Bryant western swing-influenced twin leads on later albums all but inevitable. The best was yet to come, but this pointed the way. (Jeems, P.O. Box 1108, Orange, CA 92856)