Burnt Taters

Strange But True – 2000 (Planetary)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

CDs by Burnt Taters

Burnt Taters are less a true country group than a '60's-influenced indie-pop band with country leanings. The Richmond, Virginia-trio of Craig Evans, Brad Tucker, and George Garrett echo the sounds of Buddy Holly ("Truth Is"), Donovan ("Be Myself"), the Buckaroos ("Anywhere That's Pretty"), and particularly Roy Orbison ("I Don't Want To Know," "Explanation," "Little Bit Left In Me"). Indeed, the Big O's vocal style is referenced so often ("Little Bit Left In Me," "Already Dreaming Of You") that the Taters almost run the risk of crossing the line between honest tribute and crass exploitation.

Fortunately, their grab-bag creative method does result in some original '60's-styled country-folk ("Circle Of Love"), country-pop ("Never Call Me Here"), and a wacky Western swing take-off ("Slowpoke") with impressive versatility. Moreover, the group successfully blends their eclectic influences into a cohesive audio statement.

Chris Fuller and Charles Arthur supply some atmospheric mandolin and lap steel. However, it is the Tater's own tight playing, catchy arrangement sense, close harmonies, and surprisingly full sound that makes their second album worth a listen.