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Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

Swinging From the Chains of Love – 2008 (True North)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings

In 1996, rocker Tom Wilson, folkie Stephen Fearing, and bluesman Colin Linden came together to record the songs of fellow Canadian, Willie P. Bennett. Five albums, 13 years and countless live shows down the line, they're releasing a greatest hits package for a band that was never meant to be more than a one-time thing.

A combination of three well-respected solo musicians has the potential to be an ego-driven disaster or a side-project novelty, but Blackie & the Rodeo Kings is neither; nor are they just a tribute band. Instead, the three effectively blend elements of their individual styles into well-crafted roots rock tracks. Band members wrote or co-wrote six of the tracks, while their inspiration, Bennett, originally penned three. There are also tunes from Fred Eaglesmith (49 Tons), Linden's wife, Janice Powers (Vale of Tears). Two new tracks are covers of The Band's Caves of Jericho and Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues.

The chosen songs run mainly to rock with a blues edge, though the original albums offered more diversity of style. As with many hits packages, existing fans may find the new material too slim to justify buying the whole album, but for the uninitiated, it's a fairly solid introduction.