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Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

Live From the Ruhr Triennale/October 2005 – 2007 (Train Wreck)

Reviewed by Don Armstrong

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CDs by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez

Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez have split as a formal duo, but continue to appear on each other's recordings and share equal billing here. But it is a duo in name only, for Taylor handles the lion's share of the singing and has always written nearly all the songs. The latter makes sense given his lengthy resume that includes this disc's final two numbers, "Angel of the Morning" and the cultural landmark "Wild Thing."

Taylor sings somberly, almost in spoken word. His compositions, likewise, are subdued and cerebral and are one part of what, in this pair's better releases, is a marvelous balance of age and youth, vigor and reflection. Rodriguez's scintillating voice is only intermittently in evidence and her fiddle even less so - to both her and Taylor's detriment. This is particularly true on "Wild Thing," where his energy, or lack thereof, just doesn't cut it. It was presumably his reputation that earned an invitation to a German festival celebrating popular songs and which explains the inclusion of numbers like Chuck Berry's "Maybellene." It doesn't explain the retreat from the best idea he's had in years: compensating for his navel-gazing with Rodriguez's kick to the gut.