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Montgomery Gentry

Back When I Knew It All – 2008 (SonyBMG)

Reviewed by C. Eric Banister

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CDs by Montgomery Gentry

When Montgomery Gentry entered the scene stomping their hillbilly shoes, their southern rock influences and "couldn't-give-a-damn" attitude shone proudly. After a few years and a few hits, their sound and song choices began to lean heavily toward the radio friendly. With "Back When I Knew It All" the duo promised to get back to the raucous sounds that brought them to the dance. And they almost made it, but not quite.

There are three recurrent themes that pop up: spirituality ("Big Revival," "Roll With Me" and "God Know Who I Am"), the wisdom in aging ("Back When I Knew It All," "Look Some More" and the back to back advice from the older generation songs of "One Trip" and "It Ain't About Easy") and partying ("Now You're Talkin'," "One In Every Crowd" and "I Pick My Parties" with Toby Keith).

The best song is also the one that comes closest to the original MG sound. Dipping into the catalog of Texas artist Kevin Fowler, MG turn in a great version of "Long Line of Losers."

With musicians David Grissom and Chuck Leavell that can certainly bring back the duos rough edges, Montgomery Gentry never quite make it back to the southern rock tone, but stay closer to songs that reach for radio airplay.